Polystyrene microgel cuts cost of perovskite solar cells

August 24, 2017 // By Nick Flaherty
Polystyrene microgel cuts cost of perovskite solar cells
Researchers from the University of Manchester in the UK are using polystyrene particles in a microgel rather than expensive polymers to dramatically reduce the cost of the next generation of perovskite solar cells.

The research uses insulating polystyrene microgel particles to reduce the costs and improve the stability of perovskite solar cells, although it reduces the efficiency of the energy conversion.

Current perovskite cells typically use organometallic halide perovskite (OHP) as a light absorber, which readily degrades when exposed to water. This can limit their practical use, especially in a European climate. The cells also rely on a hole-transportation layer, which promotes the efficient movement of electrical current after exposure to sunlight.

“Improving PSC stability and reducing expensive hole-transport material (HTM) use are two aspects that are gaining increased attention. That is why we’re looking at how best to produce PSCs, keep them dry and make them even more commercially viable in the future,” said Prof Brian Saunders, Professor of Polymer and Colloid Chemistry from the School of Materials at The University of Manchester.

“The perovskite layer in solar cells is not inherently unstable, but the required HTM layer is. HTM layers made of congregated polymers are thin but they are also relatively expensive and contribute a significant portion of the total cost of the solar cell. In this study we used polystyrene, which is one ten thousandth of the cost of polymers to produce, and is also hydrophobic which helps improve the stability of PSCs. Overall the enhanced stability and lower costs of production hugely outweigh any of the decreased efficiency.”

The researchers are refining the microgel approach to minimise the impact on efficiency and working on reducing lead content in PSCs.

www.manchester.ac.uk

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