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The Best Alternatives to Silicon Solar Panels

The most dominant solar panel systems today use silicon as its primary material. Solar panels are cost-effective, easy to source, durable, and have a long lifespan. Almost all high-quality products today use silicon because it's easy to integrate in manufacturing systems.

However, economics has shown that a single resource to be used for a product will rapidly deplete it, so researchers and scientists continue to pursue other alternatives to silicon. One of them is perovskite. It was barely half silicon's performance during its discovery as a potential alternative. Today, this promising alternative has achieved a huge leap in performance.

Perovskite is another readily-available material suitable for mass-producing solar panels. It's a great way to balance the economics of renewable solar panel production without stressing a singular source, silicon in this case.

In the last five years, perovskite was able to collect a few percentages of solar energy. Continuous redesigning and improvements to its solar cell design increased its collecting capability. Today, scientists have shown its potential to replace silicon and become a primary component in solar panel manufacturing.

PV Magazine has a great exclusive written for the improvements in perovskite as solar cells. Read more about it below.

A US-Canadian group of scientists has used Lewis base molecules to improve surface passivation in a perovskite solar cell. The team produced a device with a high open-circuit voltage and remarkable stability levels.

A US-Canadian research team has fabricated an inverted perovskite solar cell by using Lewis base molecules for surface passivation. Lewis bases are generally used in perovskite solar research to passivate surface defects in the perovskite layer. This has positive effects on energy level alignment, interfacial recombination kinetics, hysteresis behavior, and operational stability.

“Lewis basicity, which is inversely proportional to electronegativity, is expected to determine the binding energy and the stabilization of interfaces and grain boundaries,” the scientists said, noting that the molecules proved to be highly efficient in creating strong bonding between the cell layers at the interface level. “A Lewis base molecule with two electron-donating atoms can potentially bind and bridge interfaces and ground boundaries, offering the potential to enhance the adhesion and strengthen the mechanical toughness of perovskite solar cells.”

The scientists used a diphosphine Lewis base molecule known as 1,3-bis(diphenylphosphino) propane (DPPP) to passivate one of the most promising halide perovskites – the formamidinium lead iodide known as FAPbI3 – for use in a cell's absorber layer.

They deposited the perovskite layer on a DPPP-doped hole transport layer (HTL) made of nickel(II) oxide (NiOx). They observed that some DPPP molecules redissolved and segregated at both the perovskite/NiOx interface and the perovskite surface regions, and that the crystallinity of the perovskite film improved. They said this step enhanced the mechanical toughness of the perovskite/NiOx interface.

The researchers built the cell with a substrate made of glass and tin oxide (FTO), the HTL based on NiOx, a layer of methyl-substituted carbazole (Me-4PACz) as the hole-transport layer, the perovskite layer, a thin layer of phenethylammonium iodide (PEAI), an electron transport layer made of buckminsterfullerene (C60), a tin(IV) oxide (SnO2) buffer layer, and a metal contact made of silver (Ag). (Continued)

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