Researchers combine graphene and perovskite to create a unique new solar cell.

Graphene + Perovskite in a single solar cell.

Graphene is a material with unique electrical properties. It was discovered in 2004.

Perovkite is also a mineral that promises to increase the efficiency of solar cells. Its origins go back a little further than graphene, in the Ural Mountains in the 19th century. Today, synthetic variants of perovskite can be created relatively easily in the laboratory.

The challenge for designing solar cells is that both materials are very delicate. Graphene is very difficult to work with, and perovskite has a durability issue that must be taken into account in the design.

Researchers are looking for the perfect combination of graphene-perovskite. An Italian team has designed a super graphene-perovskite solar cell, with an impressive efficiency of 26.3%.

In fact, 26.3% is not a record for perovskite solar cells, the ceiling of which is over 29% in combination with silicon. The key is the efficiency and cost of the conversion, the advantage of this type of solar cell is its high volume and low cost manufacture.

The new research is the result of a collaboration between the University of Rome Tor Vergata and the Italian Institute of Technology, and a spin-off of IIT, graphene specialist BeDimensional and Spanish cleantech company ENEA .

The bottleneck is – or was – in the making, until the team found a solution.

Basically the new approach is to configure each part of the solar cell before connecting it using graphene ink.

The new solar cell will be the basis of Graphene’s flagship project, STAPLES, which aims to exceed the 30% solar conversion mark and reduce manufacturing costs.

Another key goal is to maintain the high solar conversion efficiency while increasing the size of the solar module.

A project funded by the European Commission.

Besides BeDimensional, other private sector partners are Greatcell Solar and Siemens.

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