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Perovskite-Based Solar Cells: The Future of Photovoltaic Technology

Key Takeaways

  • Perovskite is one of the most efficient and promising materials used to fabricate solar cells. 

  • Advantages of perovskite-based solar cells include low costs and increased conversion efficiency. 

  • Perovskite is a naturally occurring mineral composed of calcium and titanium oxide (CaTiO3) and has an orthorhombic crystal structure.

Solar panels

Our world is moving toward harvesting renewable sources for electrical energy to reduce pollution and climate change caused by conventional fossil fuels. Among various alternative sources of energy, photovoltaic (PV) solar cell-based power utilizes sunlight to generate power. Historically, monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels have been the norm. However, a new development in PV energy harvesting, perovskite-based solar cells, is expected to lead the market in upcoming years.

Perovskite is one of the most efficient and promising materials used to fabricate solar cells. The low cost and increased conversion efficiency of these solar cells have made them the first choice over crystalline silicon or polycrystalline solar cells. Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics and advantages of perovskite-based solar cells.

The Chemical Structure of Perovskite-Based Solar Cells

High costs and environmental pollution characterize the predecessors of perovskite solar cells, which include silicon-based solar cells, cadmium telluride, and copper indium gallium selenium thin-film solar cells. Due to their high efficiency and low cost, perovskite-based solar cells are a scientific breakthrough in the field of PV power generation.

Perovskite is a naturally occurring mineral of calcium titanium oxide (CaTiO3) and has an orthorhombic crystal structure. Perovskite-based solar cells are made of synthetic compounds with the same structure as perovskite and share a similar chemical formula, ABX3. Their chemical structure consists of atoms on the vertex of the face-centered cubic lattice and metal cation on the core of the octahedron placed inside the lattice. The halogen anion occupies the apex of the octahedron. Perovskite solar cell material is an organic-inorganic metal halide compound with methylammonium or formamidinium, lead or tin, and chlorine, bromine, or iodine.

The table below shows two materials used to fabricate perovskite solar cells. 

Table showing perovskite solar cell material advantages

The Properties of Perovskite Material

The mobility of atoms and molecules in perovskite is so high that it gets excited within a trillionth of a second when exposed to sunlight. This property of perovskite material helps increase the efficiency of solar cells, especially compared to silicon or cadmium-based PV modules.

Perovskite has certain properties that make it a great material for the light-absorbing layer as well as the electron-hole transport layer of a solar cell, including:

  • Long carrier lifetime 
  • High extinction coefficient 
  • Long carrier diffusion distance 
  • High mobility 

Other interesting properties make perovskite suitable for various technological applications in optics, photonics, and photovoltaics, including:

The Advantages of Perovskite-Based Solar Cells

Perovskite-based solar cells have many advantages including:

  1. A bandgap - A wide bandgap gives perovskite material greater tunability.
  2. Conversion efficiency - Thanks to a wide bandgap, the conversion efficiency of perovskite-based solar cells is higher when compared to their silicon and cadmium counterparts.
  3. Cost-effective production - Low-cost production of perovskite solar cells is possible through synthesis by low-temperature solution processing. 
  4. An abundant supply of elements - Tellurium, indium, and gallium are all rare elements involved in cadmium telluride solar cell production. Luckily, there are no rare or limited supply elements required for perovskite-based solar cell fabrication. 
  5. A quick manufacturing process - Perovskite-based solar cells are able to be manufactured quickly due to their defect tolerance capability.
  6. Ease of use - Perovskite-based solar cells are lightweight and easy to install.
  7. Flexible and adaptable - Perovskite-based solar cells are flexible and can be either rectangularly shaped or formed into any other shape needed.
  8. Environmentally friendly - Perovskite-based solar cell manufacturing produces far less pollution than monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panel fabrication.
  9. Breakeven sooner - Compared to traditional silicon solar cells, the payback period for perovskite solar cells is less.

With all these advantages, perovskite solar cells are one of the best candidates for establishing a highly efficient, low-cost photovoltaic power generation system. Because of this, perovskite-based solar cells are expected to play a large role in shaping the future of renewable energy harvesting. Cadence’s software can help simulate solar cells to analyze their current-voltage characteristics, performance, and efficiency.

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