Researchers from Stanford University in the US state of California have developed a new process for the “ultrafast” manufacture of stable perovskite solar cells, relying on a rapid-spray plasma processing technology.
The process was demonstrated in a new study published in the November 25 issue of the journal Joule. The work was backed by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowships Program.
The technology in question, invented by Professor Reinhold Dauskardt and his Stanford Engineering colleagues, uses a robotic device with two nozzles to quickly produce thin films of perovskite. One nozzle spray-coats a liquid solution of perovskite chemical precursors onto a pane of glass, while the other releases a burst of highly reactive ionized gas known as plasma, a news release explains.
Using this method, the team has managed to produce 40 feet (12 metres) of perovskite film per minute, which is about four times faster than it takes to make a silicon cell. The newly minted perovskite cells also hit a power conversion efficiency of 18%. The modules assembled using these cells were able to operate at a 15.5% efficiency even after being left on the shelf for five months.
“We achieved the highest throughput of any solar technology. You can imagine large panels of glass placed on rollers and continuously producing layers of perovskite at speeds never accomplished before,” said Stanford University postdoctoral scholar Nick Rolston, who co-lead the study with William Scheideler, a former Stanford postdoctoral scholar now at Dartmouth College. Rolston explained that a plasma treatment system could be bought commercially for a very reasonable cost.
The team is now looking to develop new technologies for the encapsulation of perovskite modules in a weatherproof layer to boost durability.
Rolston noted that if the team team manages to build a perovskite module that lasts 30 years, it could bring down the cost of electricity below USD 0.02 (EUR 0.017) per kWh compared to USD 0.05/kWh for conventional silicon panels.
“At that price, we could use perovskites for utility-scale energy production. For example, a 100-megawatt solar farm,” he added.
(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.839)
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