Perovskite power lights up solar energy market

April 28, 2014 by Andy Dunne
Perovskite power lights up solar energy market
New research could help to revolutionalise the solar energy market.

( —New research from scientists at the University will help in the development of perovskite solar cells that have the potential to radically revolutionise the solar energy market.

Since being unveiled last year, researchers around the globe have been excited by the prospect of perovskite . These cells are cheap and easy to produce, highly efficient at converting the sun's rays to electricity and therefore, combined, have strong commercial potential.

Recently published research from the Materials Design Group within our Department of Chemistry now explains how and why these cells work so well which will help in the future development of solar technologies.

Professor Aron Walsh, who leads the Materials Design Group, explains: "Hybrid perovskites are an exciting development for solar energy research. The field is rapidly progressing, but the devices have been developing faster than our fundamental understanding of how they work."

Perovskites combine organic and inorganic chemistry to mimic a crystal structure found in a natural mineral, 'perovskite', discovered in Russia in 1839. Using the UK's largest supercomputer, the researchers at Bath have been able to model the chemical and physical properties of these .

The first publication, led by Federico Brivio as part of Bath's DESTINY Initial Training Network, in Physical Review B details how the quantum mechanical interaction between electrons and their rapid motion in these materials allows them to absorb sunlight so strongly.

The second, led by Dr Jarvist Frost as part of an EPSRC energy materials consortium, in Nano Letters, reveals the mechanisms by which the materials can convert sunlight to electricity. This is distinct from previous generations of solar cells due to the role of organic molecules not present in natural perovskite minerals.

Commentators suggest that if we could capture approximately 1 per cent of the sunlight falling on the UK and turn it into electricity, we would meet current energy demands. With recent studies suggesting that new solar cells using perovskites could create efficiencies pushing 20 per cent, such technologies could elevate solar power in the UK at a cost that could compete with fossil fuels.

Such high efficiencies would also make perovskites competitive with existing commercial while at the same time being much cheaper to produce in high volumes. Suitable for incorporating into roofing materials and glass panels, new solar technologies could soon be a common feature in city architecture.

Professor Walsh added: "Our materials simulations are complementing experimental characterisation in our Department, by Dr Petra Cameron and Professor Laurie Peter, which is allowing us to bridge from the fundamental to applied science."

Explore further: Scientists make breakthrough solar technology

More information: "Atomistic Origins of High-Performance in Hybrid Halide Perovskite Solar Cells." Jarvist M. Frost, Keith T. Butler, Federico Brivio, Christopher H. Hendon, Mark van Schilfgaarde, and Aron Walsh. Nano Letters Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/nl500390f

"Relativistic quasiparticle self-consistent electronic structure of hybrid halide perovskite photovoltaic absorbers." Federico Brivio, Keith T. Butler, Aron Walsh, and Mark van Schilfgaarde, Phys. Rev. B 89, 155204 – Published 21 April 2014. … 3/PhysRevB.89.155204

Related Stories

Scientists make breakthrough solar technology

October 21, 2013

In the near future, solar panels will not only be more efficient but also a lot cheaper and affordable for everyone, thanks to research by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) scientists.

Revolutionary solar cells double as lasers

March 28, 2014

Commercial silicon-based solar cells - such as those seen on the roofs of houses across the country - operate at about 20% efficiency for converting the Sun's rays into electrical energy. It's taken over 20 years to achieve ...

Creating simpler, cheaper solar cells

November 13, 2013

Over the last four years, solar cells made from materials called perovskites have reached efficiencies that other technologies took decades to achieve, but until recently no-one quite knew why.

Recommended for you

Researchers report new technique for de-icing surfaces

September 21, 2017

Scientists and engineers have been waging a quiet but determined battle against the build-up of ice on infrastructure. A thin coating of ice on solar panels can wreak havoc with their ability to generate electricity. Thin ...

Precisely defined polymer chains now a reality

September 21, 2017

Manufactured polymers are ubiquitous in the market. These large molecules are used for synthetic clothing, rubbers and glues, and anything made of plastic. However, the material properties exhibited by man-made polymers rely ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2014
The article would have been better, examining the ROI these new solar cells provide. E.G., how about the cost one of these solar cells, and how much power one cell might provide over its lifetime?
5 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2014
While EROI is an important value one shouldn't look to it as the only (or best) criterium.
The EROI for coal, nuclear or oil is quite high, but obviously their drawbacks don't enter into this particular measure.

So the ease of producing something in bulk, cheaply or environmental considerations as well as scarcity issues/dependence on regionally limited suppliers may make a technology with a lower EROI preferrable.
It's no use if you have a a high EROI solar cell tech but can only make 1 square meter a year.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.