Scientists develop greener, inexpensive solar cells with mixed tin-lead perovaskites

solar cell

Solar cells, or photovoltaic (PV) cells, are electrical devices that convert energy of sunlight in to electricity. Solar cells have been widely used in daily life, such as in electric fences, remote lighting systems, water pumping, emergency power, and satellites.

Although solar cells can help reduce the global dependency on fossil fuels, the system, installation and operation are not cheap.

Residential solar systems are typically sized from 3 to 8 kW and end up costing $15,000 – $40,000. Each installation may cost $2,000 – $5,000, and the operation may cost $4,000-$8,000.

Now researchers find a solution to make solar cells more affordable and efficient. They develop solar cells using inexpensive halide perovskite materials. The finding is published in Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Researchers from University of Toledo in the USA, Southeast University in China, Wuhan University in China, and National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the USA conducted the study.

The study focused on the performance of solar cells made from a mixed tin-lead perovaskites. Researchers developed a new precursor solution combining formamidinium tin iodide and methylammonium lead iodide.

The best performing solar cells could achieve a power conversion efficiency of 15% with an open-circuit voltage of 0.795 V, a short-circuit current density of 26.86(26.82) mA/cm2, and a fill factor of 70.6(70.0)% when measured under forward (reverse) voltage scan.

The average power conversion efficiency of 50 cells was about 14.7%, which indicated good reproducibility.

Researchers suggest that the emergence of perovskite solar cells revolutionized the filed, not only because their rapidly increased efficiency, but also because their flexibility in material growth and architecture.

In the future, researchers will optimize the material’ properties, and may find new perovskite candidates for high-efficiency, stable solar cells.

Citation: Liao W, et al. (2016). Fabrication of Efficient Low-Bandgap Perovskite Solar Cells by Combining Formamidinium Tin Iodide with Methylammonium Lead Iodide. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 138: 12360. doi: 10.1021/jacs.6b08337.
Figure legend: This image is for illustrative purposes only.