South Korean researchers develop new and improved perovskite formula

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Researchers in South Korea have developed a perovskite blend that addresses underlying problems in solar cells made of the material that has up until now made them unsuitable for long-term use while also increasing their highest efficiency to date, according to a report in IEEE Spectrum.

While the development of perovskite solar cells has been impressive, achieving increasingly higher efficiencies, the technology has been dogged by problems of instability that have made their long-term use questionable.

IEEE Spectrum points out that while perovskite solar cells offer "good power outputs from low-cost materials that are relatively simple to process into working devices," the technology has yet to overcome certain issues.

Indeed, Perovskite cells produced in research laboratories have had lifespans of between 12 to 18 months tops. The power conversion efficiency of perovskite cells tends to vary depending on how it is measured, which points to fundamental instability in the cells' light-gathering perovskite materials, which makes it difficult to use them in panels that need to operate over many years, according to the technology news portal.

That looks like it’s about to change. A team of researchers at the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology in Daejeon have come up with a blend of methylammounium lead bromide and formamidinium lead iodide that has resulted in a record-breaking 20.1% efficiency, confirmed late last year by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Australian firm Dyesol announced this month that it could begin mass-manufacturing perovskite cells in 2018 if an initial pilot line phase goes according to plan.

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