Perovskite-based solar panels are surely a desirable alternative to the present conventional solar cells made of silicon. They are relatively cheaper and easy to produce as compared to silicon ones. These panels were first introduced in the year 2009.
Perovskite Solar Panels are also as efficient as silicon panels in converting sunlight to energy. The problem with perovskites is they are mechanically fragile and can deteriorate easily when exposed to the elements, scorching heat, moisture, and mechanical stress. Due to these drawbacks, they are still not so popular. Today, most solar installations are either rooftop or commercial solar power plants where they use flat panels. But this doesn’t really work well with perovskite solar panels due to their fragility.
Stanford scientists have discovered a solution to overcome this problem. They have found a process of constructing perovskite solar cell panels which will have enhanced durability. While developing this process, the researchers got inspiration from nature – the compound eyes of insects. The insect/fly-eye consists of hundreds of tiny segmented eyes/lenses, having a wonderful and beautiful honeycomb-shaped structure with built-in redundancy. If any of the segment is lost, hundreds of others operate affecting the visibility of the fly. Each of these segments is very fragile, but a scaffold wall around it well protects it.
Researchers used this compound eye as a model to reconstruct the perovskite solar panel. They created a compound solar cell with a vast honeycomb of perovskite microcells. Each of the cells was encapsulated in a hexagon-shaped scaffold of epoxy resin, only 0.02 inches (500 microns) wide. The scaffold wall protects the fragile mineral very well as epoxy resin is resilient to mechanical stresses.
The panel with this design was tested by exposing it to temperatures that reached up to 1850F and 85% relative humidity for a period of six weeks. The results were very encouraging. This insect eye-inspired panel had survived the harsh conditions and was able to generate electricity with high efficiency. They are now studying the way with which they can still boost the cells’ efficiency further.