Affordable next-generation solar cell technology in the pipeline

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Photo by University of Manchester Professor Brian Saunders

At the University of  Manchester’s School of Materials, one researcher is convinced that his team has taken an important step towards making the next generation of solar panels cheaper to manufacture. Using Perovskite Solar Cells (PSCs) technology, power conversion efficiencies are achieved that outstrip other technologies on the market. However, stability is often an issue that needs to be addressed. The technology is also expensive.

Professor Brian Saunders says his technology holds the potential for the design of new solar cells at a significantly lower cost. “Our technology minimises the steps required for the production of a porous perovskite layer for solar cell applications. It also allows for efficient scale-up and control of the porosity of the perovskite layer.”

This is achieved through the use of microgels  - crosslinked polymer colloid particles that swell in a good solvent -  to provide a micropatterning template around which the perovskite crystallises. Microgels (which are like microscopic sponges) are already widely used to produce surface coatings in the automotive industry and are compatible with solvents used to produce perovskite layers.

 “The perovskite layer can be deposited in one step, with good control over porosity achieved by adjusting the ratio of microgel to perovskite,” Saunders said.

 “Our technology can also potentially be applied to multiple perovskite compounds, providing a scalable and controllable method for the production of a variety of semi-transparent solar cells.”

Such technology could be applied to windows, electric vehicles, personal electronics and traffic signage.

UMI3 Ltd, The University of Manchester’s technology transfer company, is seeking to license or assign this technology and explore further partnership opportunities.

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