Solar cell devices that are cheaper and easier to make are expected to be available based on materials made at Imperial College London. Perovskite solar cells offer an alternative to cells made from silicon. They can be printed from inks, are thin, lightweight and flexible. “Silicon cells are efficient but expensive, and we urgently need new solar energy devices to accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Stable and efficient perovskite cells could ultimately allow solar energy to be used in more applications—from powering the developing world to charging a new generation of wearable devices,” co-lead author Professor Nicholas Long, from the Department of Chemistry at Imperial, said. These devices have been first less efficient at converting solar energy into electricity than silicon-based solar cells. Researchers from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) have added Imperial-made ferrocenes into perovskite solar cells, vastly improving their efficiency and stability. Ferrocenes are compounds with iron at their center, surrounded by sandwiching rings of carbon. After this stage, researchers discovered a version that significantly improves the attachment of the perovskite layers to the rest of the device. Finally, perovskite solar cells are made up of layers of materials.
The ferrocene molecules accelerate electron transfer from the perovskite active layer to the electrode in the electricity conversion layer. The collaboration team patented their design. The breakthrough invention is expected to greatly accelerate the commercialisation of perovskite photovoltaic technology.