Next generation solar cell technology for a green future
Dr Paula Brooksby of the University of Canterbury and Dr Noel Duffy from CSIRO in Australia will construct new, graphene-based electrodes for recently developed, cheaper and efficient solar cells. This technology is at the forefront of solar energy research and will enhance energy efficiency and solar cell durability
Published on 5 November 2019
Achieving a zero emissions future for energy production is one of the most important and complex tasks facing scientists and engineers today. One approach to this future lies in the development of efficient electricity generation using renewable sources such as solar, wind, wave, thermal, and tidal energy as well as large-scale energy storage capacity. Among these green energy sources, solar power is highly attractive: the total solar energy absorbed by the Earth in approximately one hour is more energy than the world’s population uses in one year. To meet this challenge, so-called perovskite solar cells have emerged at the forefront of solar cell research. Despite being a very young technology, perovskite solar cells are valued for their low production cost and demonstrated efficiencies, which are comparable to those of more traditional and expensive silicon cells.
The efficient conversion of sunlight to electricity relies on separating and transporting electrons out of the solar cell. In a standard perovskite solar cell, metal-oxide electrodes perform this task. Recent advances in the field suggest that graphene, a material made entirely of carbon, has superior light transmitting qualities and charge conduction, and greater chemical stability than metal oxides. This makes it a potentially attractive substitute in solar cells. Dr Paula Brooksby and Dr Noel Duffy have been awarded a Te Pūtea Rangahau a Marsden grant to engineer, for the first time, extremely transparent, highly conductive and stable graphene-organic film electrodes to be used in perovskite solar cells.
This work will lay the groundwork for the next generation of solar cell design by providing an entirely new approach for constructing transparent thin film electrode materials based on graphene.