Solar technology marks major milestone

By Scott Lyon

Magnifying glass over a perovskite laser.
Xiaoming Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, inspects perovskites. PHOTO BY BUMPER DEJESUS

Researchers have developed the first perovskite solar cell with a commercially viable lifetime, marking a major milestone for an emerging class of renewable energy technology.

The research team projects their device can perform above industry standards for around 30 years, far more than the 20 years used as a threshold for viability for solar cells.

Perovskites are semiconductors with a special crystal structure that makes them well suited for solar cell technology. They can be manufactured at room temperature using much less energy than silicon, making them cheaper and more sustainable to produce.

The Princeton team, led by Lynn Loo, the Theodora D. ’78 and William H. Walton III ’74 Professor in Engineering, revealed their new device and their new method for testing in a paper published June 16, 2022, in Science.

Due to perovskites’ well-known frailty, long-term testing hasn’t been much of a concern until now. But as the devices get better and last longer, testing one design against another will become crucial in rolling out durable, consumer-friendly technologies.

“The really exciting thing is that we now have a way to test these devices and know how they will perform in the long term,” Loo said.

The study received support from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Read the full article.