QUT researchers have developed a new material that has the potential to change the renewable power industry by delivering highly efficient, stable and considerably cheaper solar technology.
Based on an orange dye called anthanthrone, the material is used to produce printable ‘perovskite’ solar cells, which could ultimately be manufactured as blinds, shade sails and even clothing.
After almost a decade of work on the development of the material, the breakthrough held great promise.
Perovskite is an emerging technology for developing solar cells, which has become increasingly efficient in recent years and allows for much greater flexibility in its use. This material differs from the large rigid solar panels that sit on a roof as they are silicon based. Work has been focused on using a very low cost dye based material, which is about five times cheaper than the material that is currently used for perovskite. This means that solar panels could eventually be produced for a fraction of the price that they are now.
With careful engineering, researchers have been able to ensure the solar cells were stable and efficient in changing weather conditions. Together with colleagues at Swansea University, we have shown for the first time, how low-cost anthanthrone-dye-based hole transporting materials can exhibit higher performance, with 17.5% efficiency, and retain respectable performance after 50 hours in 58% relative humidity.
These improvements in perovskite solar cells have the potential to change the solar industry and make perovskite the best low cost, high efficiency solar cell material in the years ahead.
The next step is to commercialise the product as a printable solar material, with work also progressing to produce perovskite solar cells lead-free.