Researchers at the University of Toronto have used a new material called perovskite that could make cheaper and more efficient solar panels and LEDs.
Pervoskites are good at absorbing visible light and have never been studied before in their purest form, as perfect single crystals.
Researchers used a new technique to grow perovskites and studied how electrons move through the material as light is converted to electricity.
A research team led by Professor Ted Sargent of The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto and Professor Osman Bakr of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), used a combination of laser-based techniques to measure selected properties of the perovskite crystals.
The team was able to determine the diffusion length as well as mobility by tracking down the rapid motion of electrons in the material.
Riccardo Comin, a post-doctoral fellow with the Sargent Group said, “Our work identifies the bar for the ultimate solar energy-harvesting potential of perovskites. With these materials it’s been a race to try to get record efficiencies, and our results indicate that progress is slated to continue without slowing down”.
The efficiency of perovskite has climbed to over 20% in recent years, which is quiet close to the current best performance of commercial-grade silicon-based solar panels, which are mounted in Spanish deserts and on Californian roofs.
The light gets absorbed when it hits a sheet of perovskite, exiting the electrons in the material. These exited electrons travel easily through the material to electrical contacts on the other side where they are collected in the form of electric current.
The research team studied that if this sequence is carried out in reverse order, the perovskite will then release energy as light. By this, the material could be used to make more efficient LEDs.
The detailed research paper has been published this week in the journal Science.