Researchers Find They Can Stop Degradation of Promising Solar Cell Materials

3D illustration of diamond-shaped perovskite structure in longs rows stacked in two layers.

An illustration of metal halide perovskites. They are a promising material for turning light into energy because they are highly efficient, but they also are unstable. Georgia Tech engineers showed in a new study that both water and oxygen are required for perovskites to degrade. The team stopped the transformation with a thin layer of another molecule that repelled water. (Image Courtesy: Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena)

Georgia Tech materials engineers have unraveled the mechanism that causes degradation of a promising new material for solar cells — and they’ve been able to stop it using a thin layer of molecules that repels water.

Their findings are the first step in solving one of the key limitations of metal halide perovskites, which are already as efficient as the best silicon-based solar cells at capturing light and converting it into electricity. They reported their work in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

“Perovskites have the potential of not only transforming how we produce solar energy, but also how we make semiconductors for other types of applications like LEDs or phototransistors. We can think about them for applications in quantum information technology, such as light emission for quantum communication,” said Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena, assistant professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering and the study’s senior author. “These materials have impressive properties that are very promising.”

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Joshua Stewart
College of Engineering