Could chemistry improve the efficiency of perovskite solar panels?

A research team from the University of Surrey is utilising chemistry to make perovskite solar panels more efficient.

How does ferrocene help in improving the efficiency of perovskite solar panels?

Scientists at the University of Surrey discovered that fusing perovskite materials with an element called ferrocene dramatically increases the efficiency of perovskite-based solar panels. It was revealed that this focus on the chemistry of solar panels, as opposed to other approaches that considered mechanical and electrical components, produced the anticipated groundbreaking results.

“Our research scales these perovskite cells to a minute level, focusing on the chemical compounds and their specific problems. For example, normal practice is to coat cells in lithium, but lithium absorbs water, increasing energy deficiency over time,” explained Thomas Webb, Project Lead from the University of Surrey.

“We discovered an element within organometallic chemistry called ferrocene that significantly improves efficiency and stabilises the drop in energy that all solar panels have over time. Not to mention it is cheap to produce and solves the water absorption problem.”

The project has been produced in association with Imperial College London, the University of Nottingham, London Southbank University, University College London, and Fluxim AG.

This study was recently published in Advanced Energy Materials.

Silicon cells versus perovskite materials

Currently, perovskite materials are widely considered to be the successor to silicon. This is because they are lightweight and far cheaper to produce. However, the full potential of perovskite is yet to be explored due to the difficulty of replicating lab results in mass production. 

“Silicon cells are efficient but costly to produce; perovskite materials are without a doubt the next generation of photovoltaic technologies. There is still a long way to go to ensure these can be implemented on a mass scale, but with these results, we are a generous step closer to making this a reality,” said Dr Wei Zhang, Project Lead from the University of Surrey.

“This is a key development to advance this important new material system at a time when dependable renewable energy sources are of critical global importance. This is also a very satisfying example of how interdisciplinary research and complementary expertise across the partner universities has led to a high impact outcome,” concluded Stephen Sweeney, Professor and Co-supervisor from the University of Surrey.

The University of Surrey’s efforts to negate climate change

The University of Surrey is currently focused on sustainable solutions to negate environmental impacts that benefit society and help deal with the disputes associated with climate change. Surrey is also committed to improving resource efficiency on its campuses in Guildford and aspires to be a sector leader. It has set a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030. In April, it was ranked 55th in the world by the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings which assesses more than 1,400 universities’ performance against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

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