A few years ago, low cost natural gas was the one that took coal out of the power generation market, and now low cost solar power is the one that slowly but surely wants to take natural gas off the market. .

The time is not yet right, but natural gas does not have much leeway, as seen in the latest research on perovskite solar cells.

Perovskite solar cell.

The cost of solar power is falling, mainly due to advancements in technology and manufacturing of silicon solar cells, as well as improvements along the solar cell value chain. Hybrid wind-solar configurations are already a cheaper alternative to natural gas.

To accelerate the transition, the costs of solar energy must come down more and more quickly. So you have to find a material that’s cheaper than silicon, and that’s where the perovskite solar cell comes in.

Researchers are working to increase the efficiency of converting solar cells to perovskite and reduce manufacturing costs.

Yet another advancement of the perovskite solar cell

One of the problems with perovskite is the balance between the ease of production and the efficiency of solar cells. Until now, most of the research has focused on a polycrystalline structure because it is easy to produce in large quantities, although the efficiency and stability are lost.

Monocrystalline perovskites are more efficient and stableBut so far no one has found a way to produce on a large scale.

A team of nanotechnology engineers at the University of California at San Diego discovered a high-volume, high-throughput manufacturing method.

This UC-San Diego research team used common manufacturing processes that the semiconductor industry has used for many years to make monocrystalline silicon films.

The monocrystalline perovskite film produced with this equipment showed “fewer faults, greater efficiency and greater stability [en comparación con] their polycrystalline counterparts“.

Some of the work was done two years ago, when the research team of Professor Sheng Xu at the University of San Diego discovered a way to apply standard lithographic methods to perovskite film.

The combination of lithography and perovskites is a big challenge. One of the big problems in the field of perovskite solar cells is the sensitivity to water, which is an essential part of lithography.

The solution consisted of protect the perovskite film with a protective layer for the first part of the process, then use a dry etching step to finish it.

The new research takes this process and refines it with a lithographic mask pattern that allows precise control of film growth.

The method does not require complex equipment or techniques; The whole process is based on traditional semiconductor manufacturing, compatible with existing industrial procedures.

Yusheng Lei, author of the study.

The research team was able to control the thickness of its perovskite film in the range of 600 nanometers to about 100 micrometers and reach an area of ​​5.5 square centimeters.

The last step was to transfer the intact film to a second substrate and apply a graduated lead-tin compound.

While perovskite technology will not be widely used over the next few years, that doesn’t mean it’s not bad news for natural gas. They have enjoyed a cost advantage since 1956, when the first commercial solar cell hit the market at an astonishing price of $ 300 per watt.

Now the average cost has fallen to just 50 cents per watt, the cost of a solar panel roof is on average around $ 3 per watt, and some analysts are predicting parity with natural gas in just a few years.

More information: www.nature.com

Via: jacobsschool.ucsd.edu