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New technique from Berkeley Lab paves the way for perfect perovskites

Date Announced: 04 Nov 2021

Next-gen solar material could outshine other solar cells.

solar panels
Berkeley, CA, United States -- Scientists at Berkeley Lab have developed a technique that synthesizes a perovskite solar material and tests its performance at the same time.
An exciting new solar material called organic-inorganic halide perovskites could one day help the U.S. achieve its solar ambitions and decarbonize the power grid. One thousand times thinner than silicon, perovskite solar materials can be tuned to respond to different colors of the solar spectrum simply by altering their composition mix.

Typically fabricated from organic molecules such as methylammonium and inorganic metal halides such as lead iodide, hybrid perovskite solar materials have a high tolerance for defects in their molecular structure and absorb visible light more efficiently than silicon, the solar industry’s standard.

Altogether, these qualities make perovskites promising active layers not only in photovoltaics (technologies that convert light into electricity), but also in other types of electronic devices that respond to or control light including light-emitting diodes (LEDs), detectors, and lasers.

But “although perovskites offer great potential for greatly expanding solar power, they have yet to be commercialized because their reliable synthesis and long-term stability has long challenged scientists,” said Carolin Sutter-Fella, a scientist at the Molecular Foundry, a nanoscience user facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). “Now, a path to perfect perovskites may soon be within reach.”

A recent Nature Communications study co-led by Sutter-Fella reports that solar materials manufacturing could be aided by a sophisticated new instrument that uses two types of light – invisible X-ray light and visible laser light – to probe a perovskite material’s crystal structure and optical properties as it is synthesized.

In this 2019 video, first author Shambhavi Pratap of the Technical University of Munich discusses how she studies thin-film solar energy materials using X-rays at the ALS. (Credit: Marilyn Sargent/Berkeley Lab).


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