Renewable and sustainable energy is usually related to solar energy, and silicon-based solar cells are the main foundation of solar panels. However, silicon can be regarded as an expensive and ineffective component in solar cells, usually due to its poor electrical conductivity. This led researchers to study alternatives to silicon-based solar cells by introducing perovskite materials.
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The use of perovskite solar cells and thin metal oxide films to produce more efficient and sustainable solar systems is an innovation that can revolutionize the solar industry and call for a more sustainable future on a global scale. This article will outline the innovative research aimed at advancing silicon-based solar cells.
Silicon, the main component of solar cells, first received attention in the 1950s and became part of the first renewable solar cell technology. They can be called "first generation" solar panels and account for more than 90% of the solar cell market.
Due to its semiconductor properties, silicon is a poor conductor of electricity in its purest crystal form. Therefore, silicon in solar cells contains other atoms mixed with silicon atoms to increase conductivity. This increases the silicon's ability to absorb solar energy from the sun and convert it into electrical energy.
One of the challenges of silicon-based solar cells and silicon solar panels includes cost, which has fallen due to the development of new technologies and government subsidiaries. In any case, cheaper and more efficient forms of solar energy (such as organic solar cells) will be a welcome advance, because the current production and purchase of components are still relatively expensive, and the fragility increases concerns about transportation difficulties.
The new research, led by a team of co-researchers, focuses on silicon alternatives to optimize and maximize the energy conversion efficiency of solar cells. The research, published in Nano-Micro Letters, was composed of a metal oxide film applied to perovskite solar cells by researchers from Kanazawa University.
First discovered by Russian mineralogist Perovski in 1839, calcium titanate was renamed perovskite. A material with the same crystal structure as this inorganic compound is called a perovskite material. Perovskite materials have recently received further attention in the applications of optoelectronic and photonic devices. Features include its impressive optoelectronic properties, including tunable band gap, high absorption coefficient, more impressive diffusion length, and low processing costs.
The first author of this new study, Md. Shahiduzzaman, explained, “[They] used spray pyrolysis to deposit a front contact layer of titanium dioxide onto perovskite solar cells. This deposition technique is used in large-scale industrial applications. very common."
Metal oxide films are mainly produced through chemical deposition processes, involving the reaction of pure metals and gases at high and low temperatures. The researchers used a highly dense titanium oxide film by spray pyrolysis deposition as the electron transport layer of the perovskite solar cell.
The study found that although the energy conversion efficiency of perovskite solar cells has been improved, it is possible for researchers to further optimize the design and increase the energy conversion efficiency by more than 30% through multi-layer frontal contacts. This development shows that this new technology has the potential to become a competitor to silicon-based solar cells.
Calculation simulations show that the energy conversion efficiency of perovskite/perovskite tandem solar cells can exceed 30% through multi-layer front contact. This is close to the theoretical efficiency limit of silicon-based solar cells.
Md. Shahiduzzaman, first author, Institute of Nanomaterials, Kanazawa University
Improving the energy conversion efficiency of solar cells can promote the development of the renewable energy industry. Since there are no pollutants or harmful gases associated with this system, a greener future can be envisaged. Solar energy can be considered expensive and unsuitable for large-scale use on a global scale; however, with high-performance and cheaper materials, this energy may be a step in the right direction to reduce human impact on the planet.
Through the use of 3D photoelectrically coupled electromagnetic simulations for analyzing the optical and electrical characteristics of solar cells, advances in nanotechnology have promoted further development in this field. This ensures that research to produce competitive alternatives for silicon-based solar cells is validated and reliable.
The use of photovoltaic technology in factories and other applications enables this innovative research to completely change the concept of traditional solar energy. Although there are some challenges, such as lead-based perovskite solar cells that may be toxic, this study illustrates the gap in the solar cell energy market.
Overcoming these obstacles will enable this promising research to push solar cell energy beyond silicon-based and provide innovative and effective renewable resources.
Shahiduzzaman, M., et al., (2021) Spray pyrolysis TiO2 embedded multilayer front contact design for high-efficiency perovskite solar cells. Nano WeChat, 13 (1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40820-020-00559-2
Reshmi Varma, P., (2018) Low-dimensional perovskite. Perovskite Photovoltaics, pages 197-229. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-812915-9.00007-1
Science Daily. (2021) An industrially viable competitor of silicon-based solar cells is under development. [Online] Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210329122524.htm
Renewable Energy Center. (2021) What is a silicon solar cell | Renewable Energy Center. [Online] Available at: https://www.renewableenergyhub.co.uk/main/solar-panels/silicon-solar-cells/
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Marzia Khan is a fan of scientific research and innovation. She immersed herself in literature and novel therapies through her position on the Royal Free Ethics Review Board. Marzia holds a master's degree in nanotechnology and regenerative medicine and a bachelor's degree in biomedical sciences. She currently works in the NHS and participates in a scientific innovation program.
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