Perovskite Solar: Coming Soon?

Making solar cells out of silicon is difficult. There’s plenty of manufacturing steps, many of them at very high temperatures, and you need a high vacuum and a clean room. However, perovskite solar cells–cells made with hybrid organic-inorganic materials in a perovskite crystal structure–are relatively easy to make using wet chemistry involving solvents or vapor deposition.

In theory, silicon solar cells could be 30% efficient, but in reality, 25% seems to be a practical limit with commercial cells typically topping out at 20%. Perovskite cells are nearly that high now, and could be higher by stacking thin layers, each sensitive to different wavelengths of light.

A recent development at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory may lead to even more efficient perovskite cells. Researchers found that certain crystal structures had a much higher efficiency than other structures. The problem now is figuring out how to produce the crystals to increase the prevalence of that structure.

That’s not the only problem, though. Perovskite cells degrade quickly. The materials used tend to be water soluble, and the cell breaks down in most environments. There has been work to make longer lasting cells. The current record for efficiency in a single-junction perovskite cell is 22.1%.

Researchers hope to solve the stability problem and produce highly efficient solar films using this technology. They envision light, transparent, and cheap solar cells that would be as easy to apply as wallpaper, covering any surface that has sun exposure.

If you want to try your hand at building your own perovskite cells, you might enjoy the videos below. Notice you can actually make the cells. Usually, when we see a DIY solar project, it starts with conventional solar panels. Unless, of course, it doesn’t create electricity.

35 thoughts on “Perovskite Solar: Coming Soon?

      1. His pronunciation is odd, he speeds up words that are normally not sped up.
        Personally i can understand him but I feel my understanding is lagging slightly with his actual speech, like a delayed translation you might see on TV during a live speech in a foreign language.
        So it’s slightly taxing on the mind.

  1. The biggest issue with creating perovskites at home (in the US) is most synthesis routes require methylamine, a DEA list 1 chemical. So, you are forced to either synthesize the methylamine from formaldehyde first, or buy a ready-made small (expensive) kit. Finding a route that does not require methylamine would be the best.

    1. You can also ask for some at your local meth lab…
      Seriously though if you are going to dip your fingers in organic chemistry (not literally), you better be ready for making every interesting chemical on your own, as everything interesting in that field requires the same reagents that are used to make drugs…

      1. Pretty sure the same thing is true about all sorts of useful stuff from gasoline to superglue to epoxy resin. If you’re dealing with a harmful vapour you wear appropriate breathing protection, that’s no reason to not work with it.

  2. Great news. Also important, CdTe and mSi panels will be at 0.29 – 0.34 $/Watt manufacturing cost by the end of 2017 from 0.39 – 0.45 now. It is a highly competitive market driven by rapid innovation in manufacturing processes and costs. The costs of modules at that time will represent less than 15% of the total system cost of distributed generation (residential). It will be ~20% to 30% of the total cost of utility scale solar power.

    Innovations are desperately needed elsewhere, namely BOS components including inverters, but mostly in efficient racking, installation methods and labor and the “soft costs,” such as customer acquisition, financing, installer/developer overhead, which already today are more than all equipment costs combined. IF residential developers integrated these soft costs into their residential developments (and added solar into home design & installation), the cost of solar energy is a marginal cost, a trifling financing charge that is immediately and forever cash flow positive.

    1. You cut the cost of all the other stuff by using less of it. How? By raising the efficiency of the cells. The fact that the cost of the cells is so small a portion means you should spend more there to raise efficiency.

  3. Perovskites are an exciting development in the solar community. However, they won’t be coming soon until the stability issues are sorted out. Most commercial cells have 25 year warranties. Perovskites degrade within days to hours of exposure to air and sunlight. That 22.1% record cell is an unstablized cell, which is measured in an air free environment. So the stability is a really big issue.

    1. Even if they’re stabilized, perovskite cells are an environmental hazard for containing lead.

      The allure is the fact that they’re cheap and made out of abundant materials, made mostly of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, but with a portion of lead they have to be discarded as hazardous waste and that increases the actual cost of using them.

  4. It appears that they still have a long way to go on reliability – they’ve shown that various degradations can be countered, but not to the point where I’d consider them economically viable at scale. 90% capacity after 60 days isn’t going to compete against panels that promise 90% at 11 years (ref – current Suniva panels) even if these panels were free. The labor costs of panel replacements favors reliability.

      1. CSIRO developed the laser etching process that makes many small cells from monolithic cells, that is what made the jump in efficiency.

        So of course the Australian gubermunt gutted the CSIRO, because “coal is our friend”…

          1. Why would your opinion of that one subject be interesting to me, when I can always talk to the guy in the article if I need more information? Is it your area? No, so what is, anything relevant?

          2. I’m not sure what your problem is.

            the laser etching thing was all over the news here in Australia.

            the process made a huge jump in efficiency, this newer prism thing looks great.

            do you even know who the CSIRO are??

            I’ll give you a hint, they invented WiFi, as in 802.11


            recently they announced some breakthroughs in creating super critical steam


            Australia does a LOT of solar power research, coz we gots a lots of sunlight

            and yes, related to this HaD article, “organic” photovoltaics


          3. lol
            I’ve got 35 years of installing remote power systems.

            been doing this so long I can say I used to build, install and repair 240V inverters that used germanium power transistors.

            I really don’t care what you think of me, everyone here knows what you are, a sad, arrogant little man…

          1. say what??
            I’ve been trying to find a link to the laser etching thing, no luck so far.
            Like I said before, the lead scientists made a big deal out of it, the only reason I mentioned it was there was a comment about silicon cells getting more efficient.

            you do know who the CSIRO are don’t you?

  5. We have a strange problem in Ontario Canada.
    The government is saying one of the main reasons why are hydro is going up so much is because we are not using anuff of it.
    Hold On aren’t we suppose to save electricity thats what they keep saying on tv????
    And of course over paying the top brass. You can get fired and then they give you a severances of MILLIONS of Dollars.

    And yes I am working on a 12v solar system in the house.
    I have a seperate 12v system going threw my hole house for lighting, rm temp and control, person monitoring system, switches, 5v usb charing and some video.
    I was going to be using just arduino but now it looks like most of it will be esp8266 controlled.
    and of course I will be using 433mhz system for more dumb I/Os and NRF24L01 with little arduinos.
    With a monitoring base system using any Linux system from Raspberry PI 1 to a Orange.
    And One day I will start posting it when things slow down at home.

    Thanks Perry

  6. Great information. Thanks for sharing. Perovskite film composition is the main thing for any device performance. Normally these films are deposited via PLD or sputtering in industry rather than chemical route
    as it affects solar cell throughput.

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