Building perovskite solar cells with waste toner carbon


A group of scientists from the East China University of Science and Technology and the Hebei University of Science and Technology in China has developed a technique to build printable mesoscopic perovskite solar cells with an electrode made of carbon recycled from waste toner carbon from printer cartridges.

“At present, this work has just started, and it is still in the stage of small area devices preparation in the laboratory,” researcher Wenjun Wu told pv magazine. “We welcome interested companies to cooperate and develop this new technology with us.”
Mesoscopic PV devices are commonly produced with an absorber layer that can be conducted by solution-based approach and non-vacuum processing, which makes their production costs relatively lower than those of conventional solar cells. Using organic-inorganic layer structured perovskites has recently enabled scientists across to world to reach efficiencies over 10%.

The solar cell was built with graphite and carbon black from Beijing Dk Nano Technology Co., Ltd, α-Terpineol from Titan Technology
Co., Ltd, lead iodide (PbI2) and methylammonium halides (CH3NH3I) from Advanced Electronic Technology Co., Ltd, 5-ammonium valeric acid iodide (5-AVAI) and titanium oxide (TiO2) from GreatCell Solar, zirconium dioxide (ZrO2 paste) from WonderSolar Co., Ltd, and γ-butyrolactone (GBL) from Acros Organics. “
And waste toner carbon powder used here was got from office of ourself,” the scientists explained. “All materials were used as received without further purification.”

The cells were analyzed through time-resolved photoluminescence (TRPL).

Image: East China University of Science and Technology

The carbon paste for the electrode was made with 5.6 g of waste toner carbon powder and graphite, 1.06 g ZrO2, and 0.8 g ethyl cellulose dispersed into 15 g α-Terpineol. Four samples were created with a weight content of 5 wt%, 10 wt%, 17 wt% and 23 wt%, respectively.

The variations in the amount of carbon paste used have a different impact on the solar cell performance, as these change considerably the electrode's morphology, charge recombination, hydrophobicity, work function, and conductivity. “As a result, the photoelectric conversion efficiency (PCE) reaches as high as 11.78% with 10% weight content of waste toner carbon,” the Chinese group stated, “The best performance is determined by the electrode morphology and hydrophobic characteristics, which in turn affects the injection of perovskite precursors, crystal formation, suppression of charge recombination, and charge extraction and collection.”

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The cell also achieved an open-circuit voltage of 0.88 V, a short-circuit current density of 24.64 mA cm, and a fill factor of 54.56%.

The proposed technique is described in the paper Photovoltaic green application of waste toner carbon on fully printable mesoscopic perovskite solar cells, which was recently published in Solar Energy. The scientists claim the novel technology opens up a “new pathway for the green application of waste toner carbon.”

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