The mineral perovskite has been touted as the next big thing for renewable energy, potentially giving solar cells a 31 percent maximum efficiency – but water-soluble and perovskite solar cells typically don’t last long in the real world. 11 scientists at institutions in Switzerland and Italy may have finally achieved what researchers have been working towards since around 2009: a stable perovskite solar cell. Their solar cells stayed stable in real world conditions for longer than a year.


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Perovskite solar cells have already been built with an efficiency of more than 22 percent, but that’s in a laboratory. Oxygen and moisture go to work on the cells once they’re outside. But this team led by scientists at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne drew on a new type of structure in the solar cell to create one the university says is ultra-stable.

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They designed a hybrid 2D/3D perovskite solar cell. According to ScienceAlert, the 2D perovskite serves as a protective window to guard against moisture, so the 3D perovskite can generate electricity. The solar cells were built up layer by layer – like a sandwich, according to ScienceAlert – by putting different ingredients atop one another. The team built 10 by 10 centimeters squared solar panels, with what the university described as a fully printable industrial-scale process.

The hybrid 2D/3D perovskite solar cells are resistant to oxygen and water, while still able to transport electrical charges. They absorb light from the whole visible spectrum, according to the university.

The efficiency isn’t great yet – just 11.2 percent. But the university noted that efficiency was constant for over 10,000 hours, with zero loss in performance. Project leader Mohammad Khaja Nazeeruddin told ScienceAlert, “The important finding in this manuscript is identifying the presence of multi-dimensional 2D/3D interface. We believe [this] will trigger many further studies…widening the prospects for perovskite photovoltaics.”

The journal Nature Communications published the advance online the beginning of this month.

Via ScienceAlert and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Images via PublicDomainPictures.net and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne