Towards Self-scrubbing Stable and Scalable Perovskite Solar Cells

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Chemistry


Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) show unprecedented levels of efficiency for such easy to process solar cells, and are higher than those of most common, but more expensive, silicon cells. They have an excellent potential to provide low-cost solar electricity. Spectacular impact is expected but is hindered by poor stability of the perovskite phase and concerns about the use of lead and especially its potential release into the environment. Lead is also a relatively highly regulated element. In this proposal, our team of leading chemists, materials scientists, device physicists and theorists, will address these issues through an integrated collaborative study. Building on our previous work we will improve the understanding of the key mechanisms responsible for PSC degradation, by exploring new perovskites, morphologies and stabilisation by the use of additives. The link between defects (structural imperfections) and PSC performance/stability will be investigated experimentally and using state-of-the-art modelling techniques. The approach will provide a sound basis for predictive guidelines for perovskite formulation to enable stable environmentally benign, inexpensive PV units for mass use. Among the most intriguing aspects of perovskite materials are the high efficiency of charge pair photo-generation and the long lifetime of these charges. We will use new ultrafast timescale spectroscopic techniques to obtain new insights concerning the dynamics of the perovskite photo-excited states. We will address issues of potential heavy metal contamination, in the event of PSC failure (and water ingress) by studying new lead-free perovskites as well as by developing new heavy metal self-scrubbing scaffolds within lead- and tin-containing PSCs. A new aerosol-assisted film deposition approach for fabrication of large area, high performance, stable and environmental safe PSCs will result. Our ambition is to provide prototype environmentally safe, demonstration, large area PSCs with enhanced operational stability that could be mass produced and have power conversion efficiencies exceeding 20%. A successful outcome to this project would provide improved fundamental understanding of the interplay between perovskite composition and device performance and new PSCs that would bring about the large-scale deployment of perovskite photovoltaics for CO2-free electricity generation closer.
Description Solar cells and optoelectronics based on lead halide perovskites are generating considerable interest but face challenges with the use of toxic lead. In this study, we fabricate and characterize lead-free perovskites based on germanium and tin solid solutions, CH3NH3Sn(1-x)GexI3 (0 = x = 1). We show that these perovskite compounds possess band gaps from 1.3 to 2.0 eV, which are suitable for a range of optoelectronic applications, from single junction devices and top cells for tandems to light-emitting layers. Their thermodynamic stability and electronic properties are calculated for all compositions and agree well with our experimental measurements. Our findings demonstrate an attractive family of lead-free perovskite semiconductors with a favorable band-gap range for efficient single-junction solar cells.
Exploitation Route First, published in leading journals. Second, taken forward to industry partners.
Sectors Chemicals,Education,Electronics,Energy,Environment

Description Lectures at outreach, schools and public engagement events.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Education,Electronics,Energy
Impact Types Societal

Description Royal Institution Friday Discourse 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Research lecture to broad audience.
Now on Youtube with >24,000 views
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description The Training Partnership (TTP), London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 40 min lectures on green energy materials using 3D glasses aimed at A-Level science students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016,2017