A team of researchers at University of Sheffield have found cheaper and efficient means of trapping solar energy with help of perovskite and spray painting fabrication process. The team of researchers led by Professor David Lidzey used perovskite, a crystalline organometal made mostly of calcium titanate to make these proof-of-concept solar cells. They chose the material for two reasons, first of all perovskite is much cheaper to obtain and use as compared to silicon which is used to make conventional solar cells. Secondly, perovskite needs to be sprayed in a 1 micrometer layer to absorb light but for silicon you need to have a layer of at least 180 micrometers.
To build the solar cells, the team used the basic structure found in organic solar cells but they replaced the silicon light absorbing layer with a spray-painted perovskite layer. This manufacturing method consumed lesser energy. The prototype spray-painted solar cells that the team built managed to achieve efficiency of 11%. While that might seem very less, we would like you to inform that conventional perovskite cells have an efficiency of 19% and efficiency of silicon is around 25%.
The most important thing about this breakthrough is its versatility. Perovskite can now be applied to any surface to absorb light. This means in the future it could be used to coat our mobile phones and cars to harness solar power. Since the technology is scalable, we can build a spray nozzle that is small or large depending upon the surface we want to coat.
To know more about this research, you can head over to the University of Sheffield website, the Royal Society of Chemistry and its coverage on Extreme Tech.