How exciting would it be to spray or print solar cells on skyscrapers’ windows or don it atop on sports utility vehicles? The spray-on solar PV concept is not far-fetched. Solar researchers and company executives feel a good chance perovskites would soon disrupt the $42 billion industry’s economics. The material can be used to harvest light when turned into a crystalline structure, and at prices that are potentially cheaper than the silicon-based panels used today.
It is hoped that perovskites can be mixed into liquid solutions and placed on a range of surfaces. This could significantly expand solar energy applications. Meanwhile, a British company aims to have a thin-film perovskite solar cell commercially available by the end of 2018.
Hiroshi Segawa, Professor at the University of Tokyo, and lead researcher of a five-year project funded by the Japanese government that groups together universities and companies like Fujifilm Corp. and Panasonic Corp perovskite technology said that this development would be the front-runner of low-cost solar cell technologies. In fact, the World Economic Forum also reportedly picked the wonder material as one of its top 10 emerging technologies of 2016.
The material’s usefulness was highlighted by Tsutomu Miyasaka, Professor at Toin University of Yokohama, back in 2006. The structure of the material was not reportedly understood. Things began to change with the first research publication on perovskite by Miyasaka’s team in the American Chemical Society Journal in 2009.
The material had a big breakthrough in 2012 with its conversion efficiency. And, in December, engineers at Green’s University of New South Wales reportedly achieved a milestone of 12.1% efficiency rating on a cell measuring 16 square centimetres. Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Oxford reported that their technology had 20.3% efficiency. Amidst challenges, it would probably take around five years for the technology to be marketable, certified, and tested.