First perovskite solar cell with a commercially viable, cheaper and more durable lifetime

Perovskites are semiconductors with a unique crystal structure capable of absorbing and emitting light, making them well suited for solar cell technology. They can be fabricated at room temperature, using much less energy than silicon, making their production is cheaper and more sustainable.

While silicon is rigid and opaque, perovskites can be made flexible and transparent, amplifying solar energy far beyond iconic panels. But unlike silicon, perovskites are fragile.

Today, researchers at Princeton Engineering have developed the first perovskite solar cell with commercially viable shelf lifemarking a milestone for an emerging class of renewable energy technologies.

The team says the device can operate above industry standards for approximately 30 yearsmuch longer than the 20 years used as the viability threshold for solar cells.

The device is not only very durable, but also meets the usual efficiency standards. The researchers say their technology is the first of its kind to rival the performance of silicon-based cells, which have dominated the market since their introduction in 1954.

The expected lifetime of the new device represents a five-fold increase from the previous record, set by a low-efficiency perovskite solar cell in 2017. However, according to the researchers, their accelerated aging technique may actually be more important than their new device.

We may have the record today. But someone else will come with a better record tomorrow. What’s really exciting is that we now have a way to test these devices and see how they will perform in the long term.

Lynn Loo, Principal Investigator.

The new long-term test method accelerates the aging process by illuminating the perovskite solar cell device while heat is applied to it. The researchers chose four aging temperatures and measured the results on these four different data streams, from the baseline temperature of a typical summer day to an extreme of Fahrenheit.

The results showed a device that would operate at more than 80% of its maximum efficiency under continuous lighting for at least five years at an average temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Loo said the lab is equivalent to 30 years of operating outdoors in an area like Princeton, New Jersey.

This work is likely going to be a prototype for anyone who wants to analyze performance at the intersection of efficiency and stability. By producing a prototype to study stability and show what can be extrapolated (via accelerated testing), you’re doing the work everyone wants to see before full-scale field testing begins. It allows you to project in a truly impressive way.

Joseph Berry, principal investigator at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

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