Groningen researchers discover by chance possible more efficient solar cells

Jul

29

2016

Researchers from the University of Groningen may have accidentally discovered a way to make solar cells more efficient perovskites. It works by keeping certain gases in the crystals. The research may also lead to sensors for certain gases.

The discovery was made ​​by researcher Hong Hua Fang was doing research on a specific perovskite crystal in a vacuum chamber. The aim of the study was to better understand the fundamental properties of the crystal. Fang Before that was in the process of cooling the crystal in a vacuum chamber. While evacuating the vacuum chamber was a laser that should bring the crystal excited state. This laser provides for electrical charge in the crystal, which in turn allows for the transmission of light. The crystal should emit green light, but after the air from the vacuum chamber was sucked away, the crystal sent no light anymore. By air to come back into the room, the light came back.

This seemed to be the result of certain gases in the atmosphere. The gases block the so-called “traps” in the crystal, which ensure that the efficiency of solar cells of silicon decreases as well as perovskites. “To make a solar cell efficiency, you want the ‘stage’ or deactivate passivation,” says Professor Maria Antonietta Loi on the phone from Tweakers. “In a solar cell, you do not want the traps are present.”

Fang which gases then examined to make sure that the traps become blocked. It was found that, inter alia, to oxygen and water vapor, the traps are disabled. For nitrogen, argon or carbon dioxide, however, the blocking effect did not occur. It is to look for ways to turn off the positively charged traps. Simply add water vapor or oxygen has no meaning, because that will damage long-term perovskite.

Now, it is a matter of testing alternatives in order to increase the efficiency of perovskite-solar cells. One of the reasons why perovskite according to Loi is so interesting for the production of solar cells, is that the material is potentially easier to process than is silicon.

Another possible application of this basic knowledge is making sensors for certain gases. As an example Loi perovskite crystal in food packaging for the detection of oxygen. Its presence namely ensures faster decay. By laser light shining on the crystal, it will light up when oxygen is added.

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