UK university granted £3m to innovate perovskite solar cell technology

The University of Surrey, UK, has been awarded close to £3m to research, refine, and develop pioneering perovskite solar cell technologies.

The University researchers have been bestowed with £2.3m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and a further £500k from an array of industrial partners. This sizable investment will enable the team to design and manufacture flexible perovskite solar cell devices that are proficient in producing high-data volume at a low cost.

The team is comprised of researchers at the university and is collaborating with industry experts from the universities of Sheffield, Oxford, and Cambridge. The team is receiving additional support from its partners at the National Physics Laboratory, Swift Solar, NSG Group, Ossila, Oxford PV, Coatema, and QinetiQ.

Enhancing perovskite solar cell research

Perovskite cells – which are traditionally made from crystalline silicon – have been a staple of the solar energy market for many years. However, despite being the premier technology in the field, they are currently unable to power the exponentially growing amount of portable electronic devices, most notably, smart wearables and Internet of Things devices, which experts estimate will exceed trillions of units sold in the coming years.

Currently, there are over 20 billion Internet of Things devices on the market that are able to map and collate information, and with around 127 new devices connected to the internet each second, it is forecasted that the Internet of Things market will be worth $1tr by the end of 2023.

Due to this rapidly expanding and near unfathomable demand, groundbreaking perovskite solar cell research is a necessity to ensure that future smart wearables and Internet of Things technologies are sustainable. This will require the development of cheaper materials with scalable manufacturing techniques to further accelerate the uptake of solar electricity, which this considerable £3m investment will aid in facilitating.

Professor Ravi Silva, the project lead and Director of the Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey, said: “We are grateful to the EPSRC and our industrial partners for the support they have shown this project. We are setting out to create a technology that can bridge the multi-scale energy needs of emerging markets—and beyond this, also tackle the challenge of our age: climate change. We are confident that perovskite photovoltaics are a key part of the puzzle of meeting the net-zero emission target by 2050.”

Dr Wei Zhang, the co-investigator of the project from the University of Surrey, said: “We are proud to work with some of the best research teams in perovskite photovoltaics. Success in our research will open the very large wearables and Internet of Things power-source markets and will help power the increasing number of mobile wireless technologies.”

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