Manchester University scientists have found a way to not only eliminate the lead release from broken perovskite solar cells, but also increase their efficiency to around 21%.
Using a bio-inspired mineral called hydroxyapatite, the scientists under the leadership of professor Brian Saunders have created a ‘failsafe’ which captures the lead ions in an inorganic matrix.
As a result, if cells are damaged, toxins are stored in an inert mineral, rather than released in the environment.
Mass produced through roll-to-roll processing and being both light and colorful, perovskite solar cells have been gaining an ascendancy over silicon solar cells.
The only drawback with them is that perovskite solar cells contain lead – a cumulative toxin – and if the cells get damaged, lead ions may leak.
Now thanks to the addition of hydroxyapatite, all this can be effectively controlled – plus with the benefit of having a greater efficiency than before.
“Up until now, the substantial lead component in perovskite solar cells has been a potential environmental concern. If the solar cells are damaged, for example by hail, the ions may leak,” notes Manchester professor Brian Saunders.
“By creating an in-device fail-safe system, we have devised a way to contain toxic ions in damaged perovskite cells.”
Through increasing the inherent safety of perovskite solar cells, we hope our research will provide a helping hand to the wider deployment of solar technology as we strive to achieve net zero CO2 emissions.”
Image and content: Pexels/Manchester University