New Solar Cell Technology Showing Great Long-Haul Promise

Improving energy storage technology is very much a part of what is going to required of humanity if we are to adhere to the eco-protection goals that are important to all countries, or at least that’s what they’re claiming. Solar has always had the potential to be a part of that, but until recently there hasn’t been the level of focus there needs to be on integrating it to the extent it needs to be. That is changing, and the best example of that will be how many people you see with solar panels on their homes recharging the Tesla or other electric vehicle in their home. But solar cell technology has had its limitations.

Until now that is, or at least possibly. If you think Perovskite is the name of a Slavic rare-earth mineral you’re excused, but what we’re talking about here are 30-year Perovskite solar cells. They’re the key to an emerging class of solar energy technology, and by proving they’re capable of a 30-year working lifetime they are set to change the parameters of what solar technology is capable of. Plus meaning a lot more in the way of environmental friendliness and way less in the way of harmful practices to get the components required to build solar batteries.

Here at 4GoodHosting we’re like any other good Canadian web hosting provider in that we can see the wide-reaching benefits this may foster, and we can relate in a sense in that any way you can make powering data centres more efficient is going to be music to our ears. And likewise for a lot of people who have their work and livelihood in the digital space.

So let’s have a look at these new solar cells with our entry this week.

Serious Lasting Power

We have engineers at Princeton University to thank for this offering, and the first perovskite solar cell with a commercially viable lifetime now marks a major milestone for an emerging class of renewable energy technology. Twenty years was the previous viability threshold for solar cells, but now they’ve added a decade on top of that potentially. They are set to rival the performance of silicon-based cells, which have by and large been unchallenged for their performance since 1954.

Perovskites feature a special crystal structure that makes them ideal for solar cell technology. By manufacturing them at room temperature, having them use much less energy than silicon, and making them cheaper and more sustainable to produce there is little to not suggest they are superior to silicon. Perovskites are also more flexible and transparent, and that means they are better for solar power than the rectangular panels that populate hillsides and rooftops across North America.

They also promise to be commercially viable too. However, one issue do date was that Perovskites are much more fragile than silicon. But not anymore, as now the durability potential for PSCs is quite good. Long-term testing whether they make the grade as durable, consumer-friendly technologies. But as of now, it looks quite promising. Especially as relates to efficiency and stability.

Best of Both

Stability hasn’t improved nearly as quickly as efficiency has with solar cell technology over the past decade plus. But the stability has come far enough that it’s no longer any part of a real liability related to them, but experts say there needs to be sophistication to go along with that stability before there’s widespread adoption and roll out.

Where this started was in early 2020, with the Princeton team’s focus on various device architectures that would maintain relatively strong efficiency while converting enough sunlight to electric power and surviving the onslaught of heat, light, and humidity that until now quickly degraded a solar cell during its lifetime.

What resulted were cells made from different materials in order to optimize light absorption while protecting the most fragile areas from exposure. These ones features an ultra-thin capping layer between two crucial components – the absorbing perovskite layer and a layer made from cupric salt and other substances that would be the conduit for the charge. Once it was determined that the perovskite semiconductor would not burn out in a matter of weeks or months, they realized they may well be onto something legit here.

Solar Cell Star

The capping layer on these cells is only a few atoms thick — more than a million times smaller than the smallest thing a human eye is capable of seeing. This super thin layer is a key part of why perovskites have the potential to handily outdistance the previous threshold of a 20-year lifetime for solar cells.

The next question was how long could they expect peak efficiency to be maintained, and the results were positive there too – basically zero drop after nearly half a year.

Longer story shorter, the efficiency of devices with these cells has been very impressive. While the first PSC showed a power-conversion efficiency of less than 4%, that metric has now been increased nearly tenfold in as many years. This works out to one of fastest improvement ever seen for any class of renewable-energy technology to date.

Perovskites also have a unique ‘tunability’ that allows scientists to make highly specific applications along with the ability to manufacture them locally with low energy inputs. Plus, they are compatible with a credible forecast of extended life coupled with a sophisticated aging process to test a wide array of designs.

Last but not least, there is also reason to believe that Perovskites could be an integral part of bringing silicon together with emerging platforms such as thin-film and organic photovoltaics, which have also made great progress in recent years.

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