From: American Institute of Physics (AIP) via ScienceDaily
Published July 25, 2016 01:23 PM

Unlocking the secret to cheaper solar power

As climate change garners more attention around the world, scientists at the University of Virginia and Cornell University have made critical advances in understanding the physical properties of an emerging class of solar cells that have the potential to dramatically lower the cost of solar energy.

Solar cells remain a focal point of scientific investigation because the sun offers the most abundant source of energy on earth. The concern, however, with conventional solar cells made from silicon is their cost. Even with recent improvements, they still require a significant amount of electricity and industrial processing to be manufactured.

In 2009, energy researchers turned their attention to a class of materials called "metal halide perovskites," or MHPs. They are sprayed on like paint onto solid objects, says Joshua Choi, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Virginia. As the solution dries, the MHPs crystallize into a thin film that can be used to capture energy in a solar cell.

Within just a few years, MHP solar cells have been crafted whose performance rival’s conventional silicon solar cells. This is the fastest recorded improvement in history for any photovoltaic material and it has been verified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.

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Image: Solar cells via Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy / Department of Energy

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