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Examination of Single Perovskite Crystals Reveals Much Untapped Potential for Solar and LEDs

Date:2015-02-04  Source:lightimes on line  Browse Time:5435

February 3, 2015...Engineers at the University of Toronto have for the first time demonstrated some of the optoelectronic properties of pure perovskite crystals. This emerging family of solar-absorbing materials and understanding their optoelectronic properties could lead to more efficient and cheaper solar panels and LEDs. Through their examination of the properties of single perovskite materials, the researchers revealed that perovskites still have much untapped potential for use in solar panels and LEDs.

The perovskites, are particularly good at absorbing visible light, but they had never before been thoroughly studied as perfect single crystals. The researchers employed a new technique to grow pure perovskite crystals and then studied electrons move through the material as light is converted to electricity.

Professor Ted Sargent of the University of Toronto's Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Professor Osman Bakr of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) used a combination of laser-based techniques to measure certain properties of the perovskite crystals. They tracked down the rapid motion of electrons in the material. From this they were able to determine the diffusion length--how far electrons can travel without imperfections in the material trapping them--as well as mobility—how fast the electrons can move through the material. This week, they published their work in the journal Science.

“Our work identifies the bar for the ultimate solar energy-harvesting potential of perovskites,” said Riccardo Comin, a post-doctoral fellow with the Sargent Group. “With these materials it’s been a race to try to get record efficiencies, and our results indicate that progress is slated to continue without slowing down..”

Certified efficiencies of perovskites have reached new heights of just over 20 percent in recent years. Such efficiency starts to approach the performance of the state-of-the-art commercial-grade silicon-based solar panels mounted in deserts in spain and on roofs in California.

“In their efficiency, perovskites are closely approaching conventional materials that have already been commercialized,” said Valerio Adinolfi, a PhD candidate in the Sargent Group and co-first author of the paper. “They have the potential to offer further progress on reducing the cost of solar electricity in light of their convenient manufacturability from a liquid chemical precursor.

In solar panels, light hits the surface of the perovskite material and gets absorbed, thereby exciting electrons. These electrons easily traverse the crystal structure to electrical contacts on the underside, creating electric current. In LEDs the process happens in reverse. The slab is first powered with electricity, which injects electrons and then releases energy as light.

The Sargent Group is conducting parallel work that aims to improve the performance of solar-absorbing particles called colloidal quantum dots. “Perovskites are great visible-light harvesters, and quantum dots are great for infrared,” said Professor Sargent. “The materials are highly complementary in solar energy harvesting in view of the sun’s broad visible and infrared power spectrum.”

“In future, we will explore the opportunities for stacking together complementary absorbent materials,” said Dr. Comin. “There are very promising prospects for combining perovskite work and quantum dot work for further boosting the efficiency.”

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