UNSW solar cells smash world efficiency record

UNSW's Anita Ho-Baillies with a perovskite solar cell.

University of New South Wales engineers have smashed world efficiency record for perovskite solar cells.

Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Solar Research Conference in Canberra earlier this mont, senior research fellow at the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) Anita Ho-Baillie, announced that her team at UNSW had achieved the highest efficiency rating with the largest perovskite solar cells to date.

The 12.1 per cent efficiency rating was for a 16cm2 perovskite solar cell, the largest single perovskite photovoltaic cell certified with the highest energy conversion efficiency, and was independently confirmed by the international testing centre Newport Corp, in Bozeman, Montana.

The new cell is at least 10 times bigger than the current certified high-efficiency perovskite solar cells on record.

Ms Ho-Baillie’s team has also achieved an 18 per cent efficiency rating on a 1.2cm2 single perovskite cell, and an 11.5 per cent for a 16 cm2 four-cell perovskite mini-module, both independently certified by Newport.

“This is a very hot area of research, with many teams competing to advance photovoltaic design,” said Ms Ho-Baillie.

“Perovskites came out of nowhere in 2009, with an efficiency rating of 3.8 per cent, and have since grown in leaps and bounds.

“These results place UNSW among the best groups in the world producing state-of-the-art high performance perovskite solar cells. And I think we can get to 24 per cent within a year or so.”

Perovskite is a structured compound, where a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material acts as the light-harvesting active layer.

They are the fastest-advancing solar technology to date, and are attractive because the compound is cheap to produce and simple to manufacture, and can even be sprayed onto surfaces.

“The versatility of solution deposition of perovskite makes it possible to spray-coat, print or paint on solar cells,” said Ms Ho-Baillie.

“The diversity of chemical compositions also allows cells be transparent, or made of different colours. Imagine being able to cover every surface of buildings, devices and cars with solar cells.”

ACAP director Martin Green said the project’s goal is to lift the perovskite solar cell efficiency to 26 per cent.

“We will capitalise on the advantages of perovskites and continue to tackle issues important for commercialisation, like scaling to larger areas and improving cell durability,” Mr Green said.

The research is part of a collaboration backed by $3.6 million in funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) ‘solar excellence’ initiative.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the achievement demonstrated the importance of supporting early stage renewable energy technologies.