Perovskite solar cells - can production costs be lowered?

July 14, 2015 // By Paul Buckley
An interdisciplinary team of scientists from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has begun studying solutions to lower the production costs of perovskite-based solar cells under the 'NanoSolar' project which will run during the next three years.

Within five years, the efficiency of perovskite-based solar cells has increased considerably. Meanwhile, the cells convert more than 20% of solar irradiation into electric power. Low material costs and small amounts of material required – thanks to the thin-film technology – make perovskite solar cells a promising alternative. Costs for the conversion of sunlight into electric power can be reduced. A major drawback of the technology, however, is the use of environmentally harmful lead compounds for the production of the perovskite crystals.

“We are looking for a way to apply non-toxic materials,” said Dr. Alexander Colsmann who heads the Organic Photovoltaics Unit of the KIT Light Technology Institute

(LTI). The physicist points out that perovskite solar cells might not only be suited for large-scale electricity production, but also for decentralized power supply,

if sustainable and environmentally friendly production processes can be established. “Thin-film solar cells have a very homogeneous appearance and, hence, can be used
as facade cladding, for instance,” said Colsmann. He emphasizes that development of environmentally friendly perovskite solar cells is not only required for
sustainability reasons, but also a major prerequisite for their economic success.

The project 'NanoSolar – Kontrollierte Abscheidung von Nanokristallen für Perowskit-Solarzellen' (NanoSolar – Controlled Deposition of Nanocrystals for Perovskite
Solar Cells) is carried out by scientists of the LTI unit of Dr. Alexander Colsmann and of the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry (unit of Professor Dr. Claus Feldmann). The interdisciplinary team consists of physicists, chemists, material scientists, and engineers. They want to specifically adjust nanoscaled crystal structures and to develop novel, environmentally friendly materials and processes for the production of perovskite and its integration into solar cells.