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Promising Perovskites

by Kathy Chambers on Tue, November 08, 2016

David Mandrus shows a model of the  perovskite crystal structure
David Mandrus shows a model of the
perovskite crystal structure.  Image Credit:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

An exciting race is underway in the field of solar energy to develop a commercially viable material for solar cells to capture the sun’s rays and produce cheap, abundant solar energy for the planet.  A class of materials called perovskites has recently emerged that researchers believe promises to be the winner in this solar energy race.  According to scientists at Ames Laboratory, perovskites are, “optically active, semiconducting compounds that are known to display intriguing electronic, light-emitting and chemical properties,” with lead-halide perovskites now one of the most favorable semiconductors for solar cells because of their, “low cost, easier processability and high power conversion efficiencies.”  Perovskite materials are now considered to be the future of solar cells and are playing a role in next-generation electric batteries, sensors, lasers, fuel cells, memory devices, spintronics, and other applications. 

Since Bell Laboratories demonstrated the first practical silicon solar cell in 1954, standard silicon solar cells have been recognized as the gold standard of photovoltaic sun-harvesting.  Along the way, their solar cells have become reliable and efficient, and their expensive hardware and installation costs have diminished.  In sunny regions of the country, they have begun to become competitive with other energy sources.  Even though much progress has been made, scientific advances in solar-harvesting materials are essential to ensure a truly, viable energy option.

Meanwhile, advances with extraordinary perovskite materials suggest that a less expensive way of using sunlight to generate electricity is in our planet’s future.  These semiconducting, cube-like minerals have been improving with surprising speed and have the potential to take over the silicon solar cell market.  Unlike the silicon solar cell, they are easy and affordable to fabricate and easy to manipulate for ultra-high efficiencies, and their power conversion efficiency has made remarkable progress. 

Department of Energy (DOE) researchers and their collaborators are making significant progress in optimizing perovskites materials.  DOE perovskite research results are available in DOE Databases.  The ScienceCinema database provides searchable videos showcasing DOE research.  Included in the ScienceCinema collection is, “Los Alamos Discovers Super Efficient Solar Using Perovskite Crystals.”  The DOE PAGESBeta database provides free access to journal articles and accepted manuscripts resulting from DOE’s research, such as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory paper, “Deciphering Halogen Competition in Organometallic Halide Perovskite Growth,” recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.  The full text of this journal article will be free to the public in DOE PAGESBeta after an administrative interval. 

Information about perovskite properties, applications, and DOE research endeavors is provided in Dr. William Watson’s latest white paper “In the OSTI Collections: Perovskites.”  Related research information and additional resources are also provided in the DOE Science Showcase - Perovskites

Other Related Topics: Perovskites
Page last updated on 2017-06-16 09:50

About the Author

Kathy Chambers's picture
Kathy Chambers
Technical Writer, Information International Associates, Inc.