Leuven researchers are getting closer to a new generation of solar panels

Subject: Further improvement of solar panel technology / creating new types affordable entry level solar panels - Comments and suggestions are welcome! Don't hesitate and leave a comment on our comment section down below the article!

By Universal-Sci

Conventional silicon based solar panels - Image Credit:  Mariana Proença via Unsplash  -  HDR tune by Universal-Sci

Conventional silicon based solar panels - Image Credit: Mariana Proença via Unsplash - HDR tune by Universal-Sci

Researchers from KU Leuven have made progress in trying to improve solar panel technology by finding out how a specific type of synthetic crystal (called Perovskite), that is able to convert sunlight into electricity, can be stabilized.

Stabilizing perovskite makes it black which increases its capacity of absorbing sunlight. If this technique finds its way into solar panels it can lead to more efficient and cheaper solar panels.

At the moment the vast majority of solar cells are created using silicon which is a material that is easier to work with and that offers a relatively uncomplicated base for production. Devices based on perovskite however will offer a higher conversion rate of solar energy to electricity.

At the moment pervoskites are not being used in solar panels because at room temperature pervoskites, like ceasom lead triioidide, are very unstable. Unstable pervoskites are yellow of color, making them less capable of absorbing sunlight and thus a less effective solar power converter. It is possible to stabalize pervoskites under lab conditions but the problem remains that at room temperature individual atoms still want to change position all the time.

What the Leuven researchers have discovered is a way to stabilize those atoms by using a thin film of pervoskite solar cells in combination with a sheet of glass.. By binding the cells to the glass they can aquire the desired solar energy absorbing black state. The binding process occurs by heating the film of pervoskite to 330 degrees Celsius, which causes them to expand.. After this the film needs to be cooled very quickly towards normal room temperature. After this the atoms will be secured in place so that they stay in their black state.

According to the researchers the desirability and quality of solar cells for commercial use is dependent on thee main factors: price/performance and stability. With regards to price and performance pervoskits get a very high score in their ‘black state’. Stability however remains an issue. The above mentioned new findings in keeping the cells black under normal temperature however seem very promising for potential future solar panels entirely based on these crystals. A low entry price will also mean that a larger part of the world will be able to afford them and help us combat climate change on a larger global scale.

Sources: KU leuven press release - Perovskite Wikipedia - Sciencemag - Thermal unequilibrium of strained black CsPbI3 thin films

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