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Perovskite solar cells are lightweight and use significantly less energy to produce.

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Since 2009, perovskite crystal materials have been the subject of intense research and development as a substitute for silicon solar cells. They offer huge advantages over silicon: they are lightweight and use significantly less energy to produce; and are already achieving similar performance and efficiency values.

However, the commercial success of perovskite photovoltaics (PVs) relies upon device “reproducibility” being improved. The problem – which has puzzled researchers in this area for some time – is: Some perovskite PV modules achieve target performance levels, while others, made in exactly the same way, fall short.

Now, thanks to a collaborative effort from the Emerging Electronic Technologies Group (EET) at the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP) and the Centre for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfaed) at the TU Dresden, this variability has been ironed out. The scientists have been able to identify exactly which processes during the formation of the perovskite film most strongly affect reproducibility.

“We found that the duration for which the perovskite was exposed to the antisolvent had a dramatic impact on the final device performance, a variable which had, until now, gone unnoticed,” says the EET group’s Dr Alexander Taylor in a press release and the first author of the study which was first published in the science journal Nature Communications. “This is related to the fact that certain antisolvents may at least partly dissolve the precursors of the perovskite layer, thus altering its final composition.”

The authors tested a wide range of potential antisolvents, and showed that by controlling for these phenomena, they could obtain cutting-edge performance from nearly every sample tested. Their findings will cut out the need for time-consuming, trial-and-error testing in this regard and help the perovskite research community advance the technology towards commercial viability.