22 Jun 2016
European consortium to develop basis for “greener, more innovative and efficient solar cells” over next three years.Aixtron a developer of deposition equipment for the semiconductor industry, is working on the development of lead-free perovskite solar cells within the “PeroBOOST” project.
The company is taking part in an industrial-academic partnership with the University of Cologne, companies Enerthing and Lunovu; SoluxxO the Center for Organic Electronics Cologne (ZOEK), the Fraunhofer ISE Laboratory and Service Center Gelsenkirchen, and Duisburg-Essen University.
The basis for this three-year project, which runs through to February 2019, is the relatively recent discovery of the high-perfromance optical conversion properties of organo-perovskite materials for enabling efficient solar cells. Aixtron commented that this class of materials “offers surprisingly great potential in terms of its energy conversion efficiency. For example, the latest research results have reported efficiency levels of more than 20%”.
The new type of solar cells is expected to achieve a similarly high level of energy efficiency as solar cells made of silicon. As well as meaning lower costs, perovskite technology also opens up a variety of novel future applications due to its manufacturability on flexible substrates. Another attractive option involves using the technology in combination with silicon photovoltaics to further enhance efficiency.
The perovskite solar cell based on thin film technology has many features in common with innovative organic photovoltaics in terms of the materials used. However a significant disadvantage of perovskite solar cells developed to date, however, has been that the highest efficiency rates have only been achieved with lead-based variants of the material. The development of perovskite solar cells that are stable on a long-term basis is also only in its infancy. Lead-free systems currently show lower levels of efficiency and long-term stability.
The “PeroBOOST” project will therefore be focusing, above all, on two particular technical aspects and is aiming to develop these further: efficient and stable lead-free perovskite solar cells; and scaling up the development and manufacturing methods and techniques.
Therefore, the three-year project will investigate and develop two industrial production processes, namely vacuum coating and wet-chemical roll-to-roll coating. The aim of the project is to investigate the stability of the solar cells and to develop processes and materials to enhance stability. The team expects that the likely interval before the initial applications are ready will be around 3-5 years.
Background to PeroBOOST
The PeroBOOST project, which is being financially supported with funds from the European Regional Development Fund, was first agreed in March 2016. The project is part of a market-leading German regional competition called "New materials Nordrhein-Westfalen” (in the German state of NRW).
PeroBOOST links two previously separate projects PEROSOL – “Towards unleaded effective Perovskite solar cells for the energy conversion” and BOOST – “lead-free solar cells on perovskite – material development and scalability”. The project’s duration is three years. The particular objective of the Laboratory and Service Center in Gelsenkirchen — Fraunhofer ISE is the development of new transparent conductors based on nanowires.