Solar panels usually rely on silicon-based technology to generate electricity and this technology has been around for 50 years. However, solar panels in the past could only convert about 2% of sunlight into electricity. Over the past half century, the cost of silicon solar cells has drastically come down. Ordinary panels today can convert around 15% of sunlight to electricity, with high-end panels reaching efficiencies up to more than 19%.
In 2009, Japanese researchers created a totally different kind of solar cell called Perovskite. Perovskite uses a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material as the light harvesting layer, reducing dependency on silicon.
What is Perovskite?
Technically, perovskite is a type of mineral that was first found in the Ural mountains and named after Lev Perovski. Perovskite is composed of calcium, titanium, and oxygen (CaTiO3)
Solar cells made of perovskite have shown remarkable progress in recent years with rapid increases in conversion efficiency, from reports of about 3% in 2006 to 23.3% in 2018. While perovskite solar cells are highly efficient, a number of challenges need to be addressed before they can be widely used in the industry.
Advantages of Perovskite–
- Solar panels made out of perovskite hold promise for high efficiencies, as well as reduced material & processing costs
- Perovskite can react to various different wavelengths of light, which lets them convert more of the sunlight falling on the panel into electricity
- Perovskite offers semi-transparency and flexibility
- As Perovskite is organic in nature, its footprint is far lesser than silicon-based technology
Perovskite solar cells have demonstrated competitive efficiencies with potential for higher performance, but the stability of perovskite solar cells is limited compared to that of leading PV technologies:
- They don’t stand up well to moisture
- They don’t do well when exposed to light, or high heat for extended periods
Additional barriers to commercialization are the potential environmental impacts related to the perovskite. As such, current and future materials are being studied to reduce, mitigate, and potentially eliminate ecological concerns. Current materials discovery efforts are evaluating lead-free perovskite structures in order to reduce or eliminate these potential issues.