A perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cell. Photo: Oxford PV.
A perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cell. Photo: Oxford PV.

Many countries around the world are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions or reaching net-zero emissions to meet the United Nations' climate goals of maintaining temperature increases below 1.5°C by 2050. Renewable energy technologies, particularly solar energy panels, will play a significant role in achieving these goals.

To fully harness the potential of sunlight – the world's most abundant energy resource – scientists have been trying for decades to maximize the amount of energy that can be extracted from the Sun. In a paper in Applied Physics Letters, researchers from Oxford PV in the UK describe how pairing metal halide perovskites with conventional silicon leads to a more powerful solar cell that overcomes the 26% practical efficiency limit of using silicon cells alone.

"We identified perovskites as the perfect partner for a tandem system with silicon," said author Laura Miranda Pérez.

From a materials perspective, perovskites fulfil all the optoelectronic requirements for a photovoltaic cell, and they can be manufactured using existing processes. These features make perovskites a perfect plug-and-play addition to silicon technology, as they can be deposited as a layer onto a conventional silicon solar cell.

"We're proving the potential of perovskite-on-silicon tandem technology through the continuous achievement of world-record efficiencies, with our current record at 29.52%," said Miranda Pérez.

The perovskite material is made from chemical compounds that are readily available within existing supply chains, providing a clear pathway to scale up the technology quickly to meet the ambitious solar energy targets needed to tackle climate change. Also, the higher power output of perovskite-on-silicon tandem cells could offset the carbon footprint embodied in the production of the high-purity silicon required for photovoltaic cells.

The researchers found that adding perovskite onto existing silicon photovoltaics is the fastest way to improve silicon performance, as it bypasses the industry disruptions associated with the introduction of a brand-new technology. The researchers have focused on tandem solar cells for seven years, and the group is now very close to starting mass commercial production at its factory in Brandenburg, Germany.

"We want to help people understand the huge potential of perovskite-on-silicon tandem technology to boost the efficiency of solar installations and to help the world reach the goal of providing sustainable energy for all," said Miranda Pérez.

This story is adapted from material from the American Institute of Physics, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.