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Concept: Solar tracker


Organometal halide perovskite-based solar cells have recently realized large conversion efficiency over 15% showing great promise for a new large scale cost-competitive photovoltaic technology. Using impedance spectroscopy measurements we are able to separate the physical parameters of carrier transport and recombination in working devices of the two principal morphologies and compositions of perovskite solar cells, viz. compact thin film of CH3NH3PbI3-xClx and CH3NH3PbI3 infiltrated on nanostructured TiO2. The results show nearly identical spectral characteristics indicating a unique photovoltaic operating mechanism that provides long diffusion lengths (1 m). Carrier conductivity in both devices is closely matched, so that the most significant differences in performance are attributed to recombination rates. These results highlight the central role of the CH3NH3PbX3 semiconductor absorber in carrier collection and provide a new tool for improved optimization of perovskite solar cells. We report for the first time a measurement of the diffusion length in a nanostructured perovskite solar cell.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Germanium, Photovoltaic module, Band gap, Photovoltaic array, Solar cells, Solar tracker


Power conversion efficiencies in excess of 7 % have been achieved with bulk heterojunction (BHJ)-type organic solar cells using two components: p- and n-doped materials. The energy level and absorption profile of the active layer can be tuned by introduction of an additional component. Careful design of the additional component is required to achieve optimal panchromatic absorption, suitable energy-level offset, balanced electron and hole mobility, and good light-harvesting efficiency. This article reviews the recent progress on ternary organic photovoltaic systems, including polymer/small molecule/functional fullerene, polymer/polymer/functional fullerene, small molecule/small molecule/functional fullerene, polymer/functional fullerene I/functional fullerene II, and polymer/quantum dot or metal/functional fullerene systems.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Organic solar cell, Energy conversion, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array, Organic electronics, Solar tracker


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


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


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


Solution-processed organic photovoltaics (OPV) offer the attractive prospect of low-cost, light-weight and environmentally benign solar energy production. The highest efficiency OPV at present use low-bandgap donor polymers, many of which suffer from problems with stability and synthetic scalability. They also rely on fullerene-based acceptors, which themselves have issues with cost, stability and limited spectral absorption. Here we present a new non-fullerene acceptor that has been specifically designed to give improved performance alongside the wide bandgap donor poly(3-hexylthiophene), a polymer with significantly better prospects for commercial OPV due to its relative scalability and stability. Thanks to the well-matched optoelectronic and morphological properties of these materials, efficiencies of 6.4% are achieved which is the highest reported for fullerene-free P3HT devices. In addition, dramatically improved air stability is demonstrated relative to other high-efficiency OPV, showing the excellent potential of this new material combination for future technological applications.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Organic solar cell, Photodiode, Solar energy, Solar power, Solar tracker, Solar thermal energy


Photovoltaic technology requires light-absorbing materials that are highly efficient, lightweight, low cost and stable during operation. Organolead halide perovskites constitute a highly promising class of materials, but suffer limited stability under ambient conditions without heavy and costly encapsulation. Here, we report ultrathin (3 μm), highly flexible perovskite solar cells with stabilized 12% efficiency and a power-per-weight as high as 23 W g(-1). To facilitate air-stable operation, we introduce a chromium oxide-chromium interlayer that effectively protects the metal top contacts from reactions with the perovskite. The use of a transparent polymer electrode treated with dimethylsulphoxide as the bottom layer allows the deposition-from solution at low temperature-of pinhole-free perovskite films at high yield on arbitrary substrates, including thin plastic foils. These ultra-lightweight solar cells are successfully used to power aviation models. Potential future applications include unmanned aerial vehicles-from airplanes to quadcopters and weather balloons-for environmental and industrial monitoring, rescue and emergency response, and tactical security applications.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Diode, Solar energy, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array, Flexible electronics, Solar tracker


The performance of perovskite solar cells has been progressing over the last few years and efficiency is likely to continue to increase. However, a negative aspect for the integration of perovskite solar cells in the built environment is that the colour gamut available in these materials is very limited and does not cover the green-to-blue region of the visible spectrum, which has been a big selling point for organic photovoltaics. Here we integrate a porous photonic crystal (PC) scaffold within the photoactive layer of an opaque perovskite solar cell following a bottom-up approach employing inexpensive and scalable liquid processing techniques. The photovoltaic devices presented herein show high efficiency with tuneable colour across the visible spectrum. This now imbues the perovskite solar cells with highly desirable properties for cladding in the built environment, and encourages design of sustainable colourful buildings and iridescent electric vehicles as future power generation sources.

Concepts: Color, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Photovoltaic module, Band gap, Photovoltaic array, Solar tracker, Gamut


Earth-observing remote sensing data, including aerial photography and satellite imagery, offer a snapshot of the world from which we can learn about the state of natural resources and the built environment. The components of energy systems that are visible from above can be automatically assessed with these remote sensing data when processed with machine learning methods. Here, we focus on the information gap in distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays, of which there is limited public data on solar PV deployments at small geographic scales. We created a dataset of solar PV arrays to initiate and develop the process of automatically identifying solar PV locations using remote sensing imagery. This dataset contains the geospatial coordinates and border vertices for over 19,000 solar panels across 601 high-resolution images from four cities in California. Dataset applications include training object detection and other machine learning algorithms that use remote sensing imagery, developing specific algorithms for predictive detection of distributed PV systems, estimating installed PV capacity, and analysis of the socioeconomic correlates of PV deployment.

Concepts: Machine learning, Learning, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Remote sensing, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array, Solar tracker


Perovskite solar cells based on organometal halide light absorbers have been considered a promising photovoltaic technology due to their superb power conversion efficiency (PCE) along with very low material costs. Since the first report on a long-term durable solid-state perovskite solar cell with a PCE of 9.7% in 2012, a PCE as high as 19.3% was demonstrated in 2014, and a certified PCE of 17.9% was shown in 2014. Such a high photovoltaic performance is attributed to optically high absorption characteristics and balanced charge transport properties with long diffusion lengths. Nevertheless, there are lots of puzzles to unravel the basis for such high photovoltaic performances. The working principle of perovskite solar cells has not been well established by far, which is the most important thing for understanding perovksite solar cells. In this review, basic fundamentals of perovskite materials including opto-electronic and dielectric properties are described to give a better understanding and insight into high-performing perovskite solar cells. In addition, various fabrication techniques and device structures are described toward the further improvement of perovskite solar cells.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Germanium, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array, Solar tracker