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Concept: Photovoltaic array


Acoustic vibrations are shown to enhance the photovoltaic efficiency of a P3HT/ZnO nanorod solar cell by up to 45%, correlated to a three-fold increase in charge carrier lifetime. This is assigned to the generation of piezoelectric dipoles in the ZnO nanorods, indicating that the efficiency of solar cells may be enhanced in the presence of ambient vibrations by the use of piezoelectric materials.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Photovoltaic module, Band gap, Photovoltaic array, Energy harvesting, Solar tracker


Although sunlight-driven water splitting is a promising route to sustainable hydrogen fuel production, widespread implementation is hampered by the expense of the necessary photovoltaic and photoelectrochemical apparatus. Here, we describe a highly efficient and low-cost water-splitting cell combining a state-of-the-art solution-processed perovskite tandem solar cell and a bifunctional Earth-abundant catalyst. The catalyst electrode, a NiFe layered double hydroxide, exhibits high activity toward both the oxygen and hydrogen evolution reactions in alkaline electrolyte. The combination of the two yields a water-splitting photocurrent density of around 10 milliamperes per square centimeter, corresponding to a solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of 12.3%. Currently, the perovskite instability limits the cell lifetime.

Concepts: Water, Hydrogen, Electrochemistry, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Electrolyte, Fuel cell, Photovoltaic array


Organometallic halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have shown great promise as a low-cost, high-efficiency photovoltaic technology. Structural and electro-optical properties of the perovskite absorber layer are most critical to device operation characteristics. Here we present a facile fabrication of high-efficiency PSCs based on compact, large-grain, pinhole-free CH3NH3PbI3-xBrx (MAPbI3-xBrx) thin films with high reproducibility. A simple methylammonium bromide (MABr) treatment via spin-coating with a proper MABr concentration converts MAPbI3 thin films with different initial film qualities (for example, grain size and pinholes) to high-quality MAPbI3-xBrx thin films following an Ostwald ripening process, which is strongly affected by MABr concentration and is ineffective when replacing MABr with methylammonium iodide. A higher MABr concentration enhances I-Br anion exchange reaction, yielding poorer device performance. This MABr-selective Ostwald ripening process improves cell efficiency but also enhances device stability and thus represents a simple, promising strategy for further improving PSC performance with higher reproducibility and reliability.

Concepts: Quantum dot, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Wafer, Photovoltaic module, Ostwald ripening, Photovoltaic array, Solar tracker


State-of-the-art photovoltaics use high-purity, large-area, wafer-scale single-crystalline semiconductors grown by sophisticated, high-temperature crystal growth processes. We demonstrate a solution-based hot-casting technique to grow continuous, pinhole-free thin films of organometallic perovskites with millimeter-scale crystalline grains. We fabricated planar solar cells with efficiencies approaching 18%, with little cell-to-cell variability. The devices show hysteresis-free photovoltaic response, which had been a fundamental bottleneck for the stable operation of perovskite devices. Characterization and modeling attribute the improved performance to reduced bulk defects and improved charge carrier mobility in large-grain devices. We anticipate that this technique will lead the field toward synthesis of wafer-scale crystalline perovskites, necessary for the fabrication of high-efficiency solar cells, and will be applicable to several other material systems plagued by polydispersity, defects, and grain boundary recombination in solution-processed thin films.

Concepts: Crystal structure, Semiconductor, Materials science, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Wafer, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array


Solution-processed semiconductor quantum dot solar cells offer a path towards both reduced fabrication cost and higher efficiency enabled by novel processes such as hot-electron extraction and carrier multiplication. Here we use a new class of low-cost, low-toxicity CuInSexS2-x quantum dots to demonstrate sensitized solar cells with certified efficiencies exceeding 5%. Among other material and device design improvements studied, use of a methanol-based polysulfide electrolyte results in a particularly dramatic enhancement in photocurrent and reduced series resistance. Despite the high vapour pressure of methanol, the solar cells are stable for months under ambient conditions, which is much longer than any previously reported quantum dot sensitized solar cell. This study demonstrates the large potential of CuInSexS2-x quantum dots as active materials for the realization of low-cost, robust and efficient photovoltaics as well as a platform for investigating various advanced concepts derived from the unique physics of the nanoscale size regime.

Concepts: Photoelectric effect, Quantum dot, Cadmium, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Wafer, Band gap, Photovoltaic array


Many different photovoltaic technologies are being developed for large-scale solar energy conversion. The wafer-based first-generation photovoltaic devices have been followed by thin-film solid semiconductor absorber layers sandwiched between two charge-selective contacts and nanostructured (or mesostructured) solar cells that rely on a distributed heterojunction to generate charge and to transport positive and negative charges in spatially separated phases. Although many materials have been used in nanostructured devices, the goal of attaining high-efficiency thin-film solar cells in such a way has yet to be achieved. Organometal halide perovskites have recently emerged as a promising material for high-efficiency nanostructured devices. Here we show that nanostructuring is not necessary to achieve high efficiencies with this material: a simple planar heterojunction solar cell incorporating vapour-deposited perovskite as the absorbing layer can have solar-to-electrical power conversion efficiencies of over 15 per cent (as measured under simulated full sunlight). This demonstrates that perovskite absorbers can function at the highest efficiencies in simplified device architectures, without the need for complex nanostructures.

Concepts: Sun, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Thin film solar cell, Solar power, Photovoltaic array


Using two-photon tomography, carrier lifetimes are mapped in polycrystalline CdTe photovoltaic devices. These 3D maps probe subsurface carrier dynamics that are inaccessible with traditional optical techniques. They reveal that CdCl2 treatment of CdTe solar cells suppresses nonradiative recombination and enhances carrier lifetimes throughout the film with substantial improvements particularly near subsurface grain boundaries and the critical buried p-n junction.

Concepts: Cadmium, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Bipolar junction transistor, Diode, P-n junction, Photovoltaic array, Cadmium telluride


Solution-processed organometallic perovskite solar cells have emerged as one of the most promising thin-film photovoltaic technology. However, a key challenge is their lack of stability over prolonged solar irradiation. Few studies have investigated the effect of light soaking on hybrid perovskites and have attributed the degradation in the optoelectronic properties to photochemical or field-assisted ion migration. Here we show that the slow photocurrent degradation in thin-film photovoltaic devices is due to the formation of light-activated meta-stable deep-level trap states. However, the devices can self-heal completely by resting them in the dark for <1 min or the degradation can be completely prevented by operating the devices at 0 °C. We investigate several physical mechanisms to explain the microscopic origin for the formation of these trap states, among which the creation of small polaronic states involving localized cooperative lattice strain and molecular orientations emerges as a credible microscopic mechanism requiring further detailed studies.

Concepts: Light, Photoelectric effect, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Solar energy, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array, Solar tracker


Of the many materials and methodologies aimed at producing low-cost, efficient photovoltaic cells, inorganic-organic lead halide perovskite materials appear particularly promising for next-generation solar devices owing to their high power conversion efficiency. The highest efficiencies reported for perovskite solar cells so far have been obtained mainly with methylammonium lead halide materials. Here we combine the promising-owing to its comparatively narrow bandgap-but relatively unstable formamidinium lead iodide (FAPbI3) with methylammonium lead bromide (MAPbBr3) as the light-harvesting unit in a bilayer solar-cell architecture. We investigated phase stability, morphology of the perovskite layer, hysteresis in current-voltage characteristics, and overall performance as a function of chemical composition. Our results show that incorporation of MAPbBr3 into FAPbI3 stabilizes the perovskite phase of FAPbI3 and improves the power conversion efficiency of the solar cell to more than 18 per cent under a standard illumination of 100 milliwatts per square centimetre. These findings further emphasize the versatility and performance potential of inorganic-organic lead halide perovskite materials for photovoltaic applications.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array, Solar cells, Lead(II) nitrate


A ternary-blend strategy is presented to surmount the shortcomings of both fullerene derivatives and nonfullerene small molecules as acceptors for the first time. The optimal ternary device shows a high power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 10.4%. Moreover, a significant enhancement in PCE (≈35%) relative to both of the binary reference devices, which has never been achieved before in high-efficiency ternary devices, is demonstrated.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array