Mystery of solar power ‘miracle material’ perovskite finally revealed

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Researchers have uncovered the mysterious properties of so-called “miracle material” perovskite, paving the way for ultra-efficient solar cells.

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Using new microscopy techniques, scientists at the University of Cambridge were able to understand why the disordered structure of perovskite actually enhances its performance.

Perovskite materials have emerged in recent years as a promising alternative to conventional silicon-based solar cells, because of their potential to convert the sun’s energy into electricity as well as being cheaper to produce.


In less than a year, scientists at the Technical University of Berlin achieved a new world record in solar cell efficiency with perovskite, breaking the silicon record of 28 percent with an efficiency of 29.15 percent.

The latest research involves Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory collaborating with the Diamond Light Source Synchrotron Facility in Didcot and the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan to experiment with a variety of techniques to better understand perovskite.

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“The idea is that we do something called multimodal microscopy, which is a pretty fancy way of saying that we look at it, of samples with many different microscopes and basically trying to correlate those properties. efforts that we draw with the qualities we draw from one out of the other,” said Kyle Frohna, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge.

“What we see is that we have two kinds of disorder happening in parallel. Electronic disorder associated with defects that reduce performance, and then spatial chemical disorder that seems to improve it. And what we found is It is that chemical disorder – ‘good’ disorder in this case – reduces ‘bad’ disorder from defects by removing charge carriers.”

Forged deep within Earth’s mantle, perovskite can also be synthesized in a laboratory and has the potential to transform different regions.

Perovskite has been hailed as a ‘miracle material’ for its ability to radically change everything from solar energy harvesting to internet speed

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Perovskite has been hailed as a ‘miracle material’ for its ability to radically change everything from solar energy harvesting to internet speed

It may also hold the key to ultra-fast communication, with a 2017 study finding that it could boost computing and Internet speeds by up to 1,000 times.

“This method enables new routes to be adapted at the nanoscale, ultimately leading to better performance for targeted application,” said Miguel Anaya, a Research Fellow in Cambridge’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.

“Now, we can see other types of perovskites that are good not only for solar cells but also for LEDs or detectors and understand their working principles.”

University of Utah materials science professor Jade Wally Vardeny described it in 2017 as “incredible, a wondrous material”, as researchers were able to improve its Sun-to-energy efficiency by more than 10-fold in just a few years. .

The latest findings were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology on Monday.


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