Scientists develop pioneering new spray-on solar cells

Aug 01, 2014 by Hannah Postles
Scientists develop pioneering new spray-on solar cells
An artist's impression of spray-coating glass with the polymer to create a solar cell

(Phys.org) —A team of scientists at the University of Sheffield are the first to fabricate perovskite solar cells using a spray-painting process – a discovery that could help cut the cost of solar electricity.

Experts from the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy and Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering have previously used the spray-painting method to produce solar cells using organic semiconductors - but using perovskite is a major step forward.

Efficient organometal halide perovskite based photovoltaics were first demonstrated in 2012. They are now a very promising new material for solar cells as they combine high efficiency with low materials costs.

The spray-painting process wastes very little of the perovskite material and can be scaled to high volume manufacturing – similar to applying paint to cars and graphic printing.

Lead researcher Professor David Lidzey said: "There is a lot of excitement around perovskite based photovoltaics.

"Remarkably, this class of material offers the potential to combine the high performance of mature solar cell technologies with the low embedded energy costs of production of organic photovoltaics."

While most solar cells are manufactured using energy intensive materials like silicon, perovskites, by comparison, requires much less energy to make. By spray-painting the perovskite layer in air the team hope the overall energy used to make a solar cell can be reduced further.

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Professor Lidzey said: "The best certified efficiencies from are around 10 per cent.

"Perovskite cells now have efficiencies of up to 19 per cent. This is not so far behind that of silicon at 25 per cent - the material that dominates the world-wide solar market."

He added: "The perovskite devices we have created still use similar structures to organic cells. What we have done is replace the key light absorbing layer - the organic layer - with a spray-painted perovskite.

"Using a perovskite absorber instead of an organic absorber gives a significant boost in terms of efficiency."

The Sheffield team found that by spray-painting the perovskite they could make prototype with efficiency of up to 11 per cent.

Professor Lidzey said: "This study advances existing work where the perovskite layer has been deposited from solution using laboratory scale techniques. It's a significant step towards efficient, low-cost solar cell devices made using high volume roll-to-roll processing methods."

Solar power is becoming an increasingly important component of the world-wide renewables energy market and continues to grow at a remarkable rate despite the difficult economic environment.

Professor Lidzey said: "I believe that new thin-film photovoltaic technologies are going to have an important role to play in driving the uptake of solar-, and that perovskite based cells are emerging as likely thin-film candidates. "

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EnergySage
2 / 5 (4) Aug 01, 2014
This is exciting. There are so many new innovations that are currently being developed that it's hard to know when to make an investment. Why go solar now when all this cool technology is coming? The reality is that solar is here now and it's affordable. With solar you'll save on rising electricity costs. Learn more about deciding when you should go solar. - http://bit.ly/Z3KxzF
betterexists
1 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2014
After reading about these Spray-painted Perovskite Solar Layers, I am reminded of Jugglers.
Instead of Fixed Solar Cells, Just keep juggling a Very Big number of them up in the Air. For eg., Coat those Badminton balls or something similar to that!
I do not think it takes more energy...as long as they are juggled to optimally determined heights!
This should be feasible now since the Spray-painted Perovskite Solar Layers should be very thin compared to the conventional Solar Panels. Some centrally located Magnet or something should prevent them being blown away.
(Fun: Just Stop juggling before you get to the rooftop). A Flat Rooftop helps...but most houses in the U.S have that Gothic Shape because of the need to minimize Snow collection and facilitate its sliding down to earth.
betterexists
1 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2014
EnergySage Comment is not mine: (I was entering this comment of mine, betterexists....The above one, which is not mine appeared in this comment's place preventing me for 3 minutes).
Anyways:
After reading about these Spray-painted Perovskite Solar Layers, I am reminded of Jugglers.
Instead of Fixed Solar Cells, Just keep juggling a Very Big number of them up in the Air. For eg., Coat those Badminton balls or something similar to that!
I do not think it takes more energy...as long as they are juggled to optimally determined heights!
This should be feasible now since the Spray-painted Perovskite Solar Layers should be very thin compared to the conventional Solar Panels. Some centrally located Magnet or something should prevent them being blown away.
(Fun: Just Stop juggling before you get to the rooftop). A Flat Rooftop helps...but most houses in the U.S have that Gothic Shape because of the need to minimize Snow collection and facilitate its sliding down to earth.
betterexists
1 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2014
EnergySage Comment is not mine: (I was entering this comment of mine, betterexists....The above one, which is not mine appeared in this comment's place preventing me for 3 minutes).
Anyways:
After reading about these Spray-painted Perovskite Solar Layers, I am reminded of Jugglers.
Instead of Fixed Solar Cells, Just keep juggling a Very Big number of them up in the Air. For eg., Coat those Badminton balls or something similar to that!
I do not think it takes more energy...as long as they are juggled to optimally determined heights!
This should be feasible now since the Spray-painted Perovskite Solar Layers should be very thin compared to the conventional Solar Panels. Some centrally located Magnet or something should prevent them being blown away.
(Fun: Just Stop juggling before you get to the rooftop). A Flat Rooftop helps...but most houses in the U.S have that Gothic Shape because of the need to minimize Snow collection and facilitate its sliding down to earth.
betterexists
3 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2014
SHEER STUPIDITY Of This Comment system People that 3 varieties of my SAME COMMENT Exists!
Caused me Too much frustration while entering them.
betterexists
1 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2014
I AM NOT GOING TO CLICK on that link!
NOT INTERESTED.
Whydening Gyre
3.8 / 5 (6) Aug 01, 2014
SHEER STUPIDITY Of This Comment system People that 3 varieties of my SAME COMMENT Exists!
Caused me Too much frustration while entering them.

You hit the "submit" button three times. Each time without a refresh - either not aware of the delay or in just too much of a hurry.
Ergo - the stupidity does not ly with the comment system people...
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (8) Aug 02, 2014
Aaannndd... hate to break it to ya, Cosmo Kris, but your contraption is gonna use more power than it produces... Nature of the beast.
The only way to make it free would be to use a neighbors outlet to plug your circular saw into...
Skepticus_Rex
5 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2014
Kris,

You'd need at least an 18 HP motor (3,480–3,780 RPM) to make that workable when you start putting a house-sized load on a 9,600-watt model generator head ($859.99 on sale). No tractor battery is going to power something like that. You'd need a whole bank of tractor batteries and a charger/alternator designed for that purpose. You also are talking about a rather large amount of money over and above what you allegedly spent on your proof-of-concept model. After all that, it would be a huge drain on the system, causing it not to work. You don't get something for nothing in real life.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2014
This is great stuff. Imagine covering a factory roof with it, or the walls of an office building.

They talk also about high volume roll-to-roll processing; in case it's not clear, they're talking about printing solar cells like newspaper. That's gonna be very inexpensive.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2014
@cosmo, Kris, inverters are not 100% efficient; especially with inductive loads like a saw motor, because of the phase quadrature which reduces the effective power, dissipating the extra as heat both in the inverter and in the motor. Unless you buy a very expensive inverter, this will cost you minimum 20% efficiency, which means you will lose energy charging the battery/ies. Then there's the efficiency of the battery charger...

There's no free energy. See the First Law of Thermodynamics, often abbreviated as the 1LOT and also known as the Law of the Conservation of Energy. You can neither create nor destroy energy; you can only convert it, and due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or 2LOT, also known as the Law of Entropy, you can never convert energy to anything but heat with 100% efficiency.

Some witty people say these two laws mean "You can't win, and you can't break even."