NTU scientists make breakthrough solar technology: Unique material is far cheaper to produce and generates almost as much power as today’s thin film solar cells
This next generation solar cell, made from organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite materials, is about five times cheaper than current thin-film solar cells, due to a simpler solution-based manufacturing process.
Perovskite is known to be a remarkable solar cell material as it can convert up to 15 per cent of sunlight to electricity, close to the efficiency of the current solar cells, but scientists did not know why or how, until now.
In a paper published last Friday (18 Oct) in the world’s most prestigious academic journal, Science, NTU’s interdisciplinary research team was the first in the world to explain this phenomenon.
The team of eight researchers led by Assistant Professor Sum Tze Chien and Dr Nripan Mathews had worked closely with NTU Visiting Professor Michael Grätzel, who currently holds the record for perovskite solar cell efficiency of 15 per cent, and is a co-author of the paper. Prof Grätzel, who is based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), has won multiple awards for his invention of dye-sensitised solar cells.
The high sunlight-to-electricity efficiency of perovskite solar cells places it in direct competition with thin film solar cells which are already in the market and have efficiencies close to 20 per cent.
The new knowledge on how these solar cells work is now being applied by the Energy Research Institute @ NTU([email protected]), which is developing a commercial prototype of the perovskite solar cell in collaboration with Australian clean-tech firm Dyesol Limited (ASX: DYE).
Asst Prof Sum said the discovery of why perovskite worked so well as a solar cell material was made possible only through the use of cutting-edge equipment and in close collaboration with NTU engineers.
“In our work, we utilise ultrafast lasers to study the perovskite materials. We tracked how fast these materials react to light in quadrillionths of a second (roughly 100 billion times faster than a camera flash),” said the Singaporean photophysics expert from NTU’s School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
“We discovered that in these perovskite materials, the electrons generated in the material by sunlight can travel quite far. This will allow us to make thicker solar cells which absorb more light and in turn generate more electricity.”
The NTU physicist added that this unique characteristic of perovskite is quite remarkable since it is made from a simple solution method that normally produces low quality materials.
His collaborator, Dr Nripan Mathews, a senior scientist at [email protected], said that their discovery is a great example of how investment in fundamental research and an interdisciplinary effort, can lead to advances in knowledge and breakthroughs in applied science.
“Now that we know exactly how perovskite materials behave and work, we will be able to tweak the performance of the new solar cells and improve its efficiency, hopefully reaching or even exceeding the performance of today’s thin-film solar cells,” said Dr Mathews, who is also the Singapore R&D Director of the Singapore-Berkeley Research Initiative for Sustainable Energy (SinBeRISE) NRF CREATE programme.
“The excellent properties of these materials, allow us to make light weight, flexible solar cells on plastic using cheap processes without sacrificing the good sunlight conversion efficiency.”
Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, the Executive Director of [email protected] said they are now looking into building prototype solar cell modules based on this exciting class of materials.
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Breakthrough solar technology
- New technology can generate solar power at night time by ‘catching’ earth’s heat
By ‘catching’ the earth’s heat at night, Australian researchers have made a major step towards developing night time solar power.
- University Of New South Wales: ‘Night-time solar’ technology can now deliver power in the dark
UNSW researchers have made a major breakthrough in renewable energy technology by producing electricity from so-called ‘night-time’ solar power.The team from the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable E ...
- Research shows solar power can be generated at night
UNSW researchers have made a major breakthrough in renewable energy technology by producing electricity from so-called ‘night-time’ solar power. Science Research team The team from the School of ...
- Energy breakthrough allows solar panels to deliver power at NIGHT via infrared heat
TIME solar panels can produce electricity in the dark by harnessing the Earth's radiant infrared heat, a proof-of-concept study has demonstrated.
- Australian researchers crack ‘nighttime’ solar
Researchers from the University of New South Wales have made a major breakthrough in what was previously conceived of only in theoretical terms – namely, "nighttime" solar power.
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Breakthrough solar technology
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Microplastics in water
- Microplastics: Invisible bane to PH fishermen
Despite being a marine protected area, Tañon recorded the highest amount of plastic, at least 58 pieces of microplastics per liter. Padin believes the water currents, running from north to south ...
- 90% of Nigerian drinking water contains microplastics - Study by Covenant
This water is delivered untreated and commonly stored in tanks above people’s homes. The researchers noted that microplastics don’t degrade and if plastic pollution continues, it “will result in ...
- Microplastics Widespread in Nigerian Drinking Water, Research Shows
Nigerian drinking water is massively affected by microplastics, according to new research. But the recent study in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry found that microplastics (MPs) are abundant in ...
- Bay Area organization tracking microplastics in our waters
You might not see them, but scientists say microplastics are everywhere. They are tiny particles of plastic, usually less than five millimeters in length and are the result of plastic waste breaking ...
- How do microplastics affect Delaware's blue crabs?
Since 2019, Boettcher has been studying whether microplastic exposure during larval development affects blue crab survival and return to the Delaware Bay population. Plastics have become increasingly ...