Indoor solar cells based on lead-free perovskite-inspired materials


Lead-free perovskite-inspired materials (PIMs) suitable for optoelectronics have been recently considered in PV research, as they have a similar electronic structure to high‐performance lead‐halide perovskites, but not their toxicity.

A group of scientists from the UK's Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, and from China's Soochow University are looking at this special class of materials for applications in indoor solar cells. According to the researchers, PV devices built with these compounds are particularly suitable for indoor environments due to their high efficiency at absorbing visible light and converting it into electricity and despite their low ability in absorbing sunlight. Visible light is defined as the wavelengths that are visible to most human eyes.

The research team considered, in particular, two of these materials, bismuth oxyiodide (BiOI) and the defect‐ordered perovskite cesium antimony chloride‐iodide (Cs3Sb2ClxI9‐x). “What we've done is we also calculated the future efficiency potential for these new materials, and we've shown that potentially in the future they could reach efficiencies within the 40 to 60 percent range, and that's significantly higher than what has been demonstrated with silicon,” research co-author Robert Hoye stated.

PV devices developed with these two materials showed an efficiency of only 1% under 1‐sun illumination, but under indoor illumination their efficiency grew to up to 5%. “These efficiencies are within the range of reported values for hydrogenated amorphous silicon, i.e., the industry standard for indoor PV,” the scientists further explained. “It is demonstrated that such performance levels are already sufficient for millimeter‐scale PIM devices to power thin‐film‐transistor circuits.”

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Solar cells based on lead-free perovskite-inspired materials may be used for power smart devices, such as smart speakers, gadgets and wearable health and wellness sensors. “So think for instance, devices that are going to be used to enhance our quality of life in the form of smart skin patches for health and wellness monitoring, as well as devices that are going to be used for smart homes in which we could wirelessly interact with all types of sensors and appliances for greater comfort and safety,” research co-author Vincenzo Pecunia stressed.

The findings of the research are presented in the paper Lead‐Free Perovskite‐Inspired Absorbers for Indoor Photovoltaics, published in Advanced Energy Materials.

*The article was amended on November 25 to reflect that visible light is defined as the wavelengths that are visible to most human eyes and not as a form of electromagnetic radiation that includes radio waves, infrared radiation, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and microwaves.

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