Duke Uni bets on laser evaporation for new perovskites

The RIR-MAPLE chamber. Thin-film deposition process is over. Image by Duke University.

January 5 (Renewables Now) - A new manufacturing technique for perovskites, developed at Duke University, could “open a whole new world of materials to the solar cell industry,” says materials scientist David Mitzi.

The team of researchers at the university demonstrated the use of Resonant Infrared Matrix-Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation (RIR-MAPLE) in the making of perovskites, so that organic and inorganic molecules are mixed in complex crystalline structures. Their new method for making hybrid thin-film materials could be useful not only in solar manufacturing, but also for light-emitting diodes and photodetectors.

“If we can find a new manufacturing approach that can build more complex molecular combinations, it will open new realms of chemistry for multifunctional materials,” Mitzi says.

The new method involves freezing a solution containing the molecular building blocks for the perovskite. A laser then vaporises portions of the frozen block in a vacuum chamber and the vapor travels upward to coat the bottom surface of an object placed overhead. When enough of the material is there, the product is heated to crystallise the molecules and set the thin film in place.

Adrienne Stiff-Roberts, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, explains that the RIR-MAPLE technology is very gentle on the organic components. “That also makes it much more efficient, requiring only a small fraction of the organic materials to reach the same final product,” Stiff-Roberts adds.

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Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for seven years now. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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