Australian researchers produce 12% efficient, 16cm2 perovskite PV cell

Perovskites are currently among the most popular areas of solar PV research. As a material for thin-film solar, they are inexpensive, simple to make, require no rare materials, and have seen impressive efficiency gains in the last decade.

On Friday perovksite research hit another milestone, with a researcher from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) announcing that her team has reached a combination of efficiency and size record, with a 12.1% efficiency rating on a 16 square centimeter PV cell.

Perovskites have been produced in laboratory settings with efficiencies over 22%. However, this is typically done on very small cells. According to UNSW, their cell produced by a team led by Dr. Anita Ho-Baillie is around 10x as large as the other high-efficiency PV cells on record.

The efficiency of the cell produced by Dr. Anita Ho-Baillie’s team has been independently confirmed by international testing center Newport Corporation.

“This is a very hot area of research, with many teams competing to advance photovoltaic design,” noted Ho-Baillie. “These results place UNSW among the best groups in the world producing state-of-the-art high performance perovskite solar cells. And I think we can get to 24% within a year or so.”

But while the new record is encouraging, there are still barriers to developing perovskites as a commercial technology. Most significantly, researchers have had a difficult time producing perovskite PV cells that remain stable, and such cells are particularly prone to temperature and moisture impacts.

Ho-Bailliee’s team is working on this issue as well, and UNSW notes that they join “every other team in the world” in trying to find ways to make perovskites more stable.

However, at least one company claims to have already solved these issues in its laboratories. “I think there are really not that many barriers as people may think,” Oxford PV CEO Frank Averdung told pv magazine. “Long-term stability is not an issue anymore.”

“It encourages us to feel that the material is ready for commercialization, not disregarding that commercialization is an entirely different challenge.”

Last week Oxford PV signed a cooperation agreement with an un-named global PV cell and module maker and is developing a pilot perovskite and crystalline silicon tandem PV cell line in Germany. Oxford CEO Averdung says that the company will create cells with efficiencies higher than 25%.