A team of researchers in South Korea announced a potential breakthrough in solar cell technology, creating “semi-transparent perovskite solar cells” that could possibly be used as electricity-producing windows in the future, according to their paper published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.
Conventional solars cells are made of crystalline silicon, but it is difficult to make the material translucent, the researchers explained. Other materials are being used to develop semi-transparent solar cells, mainly organic materials, but have low efficiency in converting light to electricity.
The team led by Professor Yoo Seunghyup of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Professor Park Nam-Gyu of the Sungkyunkwan University instead focused on perovskites, minerals containing calcium titanate, which are also photovoltaic materials and can easily be made translucent, unlike silicon materials. The researchers then developed a transparent top electrode (TTE) which lets through visible light while reflecting infrared rays.
In tests, the researchers discovered the perovskite-TTE combination had a power conversion efficiency (light-to-electricity) of about 13.3 percent, and moreover functioned as a thermal mirror, reflecting most heat.
Possible applications of the technology, the study explained are solar windows for buildings or automobiles.
“The present work can be further fine-tuned to include colored solar cells and to incorporate flexible or rollable form factors, as they will allow for greater design freedom and thus offer more opportunities for them to be integrated into real-world objects and structures such as cars, buildings, and houses,” said Yoo.