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article imageEdging towards printable solar cells

By Tim Sandle     Feb 16, 2017 in Environment
Toronto - Imagine being able to print out your own solar cells? Or popping to a store and having solar panels fashioned to your specification within minutes? These processes are becoming close to reality.
A new innovation, from the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, is placing the printing solar cells as easy as printing a newspaper, and at a similar low cost, ever close to reality. The science group think they will be able to use advanced printing technology to create perovskite solar cells. These cells would allow for the production of low-cost, printable solar panels.
Perovskite solar cells use a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material as the light-harvesting active layer, the part that captures and converts energy. Perovskite materials such as methylammonium lead halides are cheap to produce and relatively simple to manufacture. Potentially, perovskites and silicon cells can be married to improve efficiency further.
Commercial solar cells remain relatively expensive to manufacture. These solar cells are fashioned from thin slices of crystalline silicon. These need to be of a very high purity, which requires a great deal of energy. In contrast, since perovskite raw materials can be mixed into a liquid to create a type of of 'solar ink', they can be printed onto glass, plastic or other materials by an inkjet printing process. It is this process that the Canadian scientists have been working on. This involves using nanoparticles that are coated with a layer of chlorine atoms. This helps the crystals to bind to the perovskite layer on top. Some success has been achieved to date and the researchers are fine-tuning the process.
The research has been published in the journal Science. The paper is titled "Efficient and stable solution-processed planar perovskite solar cells via contact passivation."
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