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Perovskite Solar Cells

The best materials with which to create a solar cell would be materials that absorb light and radiate it. The daily amount of solar energy that the sun emits to the earth's surface is sufficient to meet the world’s energy demands, but economical and efficient ways of converting that sunlight into affordable electricity has continued to be elusive, until now. Scientific researchers have been assiduous and meticulous about discovering new solar materials that are more efficient, inexpensive, readily available, transparent, and durable under increased exposure to sunlight and weather. Scientists from distinguished university science labs at the University of Oxford, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Singapore-- just to name a few-- are ecstatic to report that the future of solar power is promising with the discovery of the uses of “perovskite.” This material is particularly promising to scientists because it mimics the chemical compound calcium titanate dioxide, which was widely used in making theatrical production lights before the development of electric lighting. When combined with other materials such as lead, perovskite can be utilized with anything that exhibits its same structure. Although perovskite had long ago been discovered in the Ural Mountains of Kazakhstan and Russia in the mid-1800s, its capacity to convert solar energy into electricity had only recently become evident in 2009. This discovery has become great news for the science and technology communities in that approximately 85% of the devices that use photovoltaics, a process of producing electrical power by converting solar energy into electricity using semiconductors, can now be constructed with perovskite cells instead of crystalline silicon. In time of course.

Since the profound discovery of the beneficial uses of the element in 2009, the manufacturing of perovskite based solar cells has risen at a record pace. Research scientists find that cells containing the mineral are appealing because they constantly recharge themselves. These cells are also durable under intense light exposure, and they efficiently capture and convert light particles into electricity. More importantly, these types of solar cells are easy and inexpensive to make in that they are manufactured through a printing method that is dependent on a liquid substance.

Research scientists have even more to rave about when it comes to the interminable potential of perovskite based photovoltaic cells; scientists have discovered how to replace the cell’s potentially dangerous lead component with the non-harmful element tin. This is significant in that traditional silicone based cells had only seen a 50 percent solar conversion in their first five years. While the prototypes of lead based perovskite cells-- considered marginally unsafe for consumer manufacturing-- had shown an unparalleled rise of 400 percent in solar conversion in as little as five years. Research scientists are optimistic about expecting similar results as they continue to research replacing the lead element with tin since both elements are in the same same set in the periodic table. Tin based perovskite has economic advantages because it is inexpensive, easy to make, and does not require high-temperature manufacturing. Scientists are certain that once they refine the use of tin in perovskite based solar cells, the low cost material can be used on all devices that use photovoltaics.

Nanyang Technological University in Singapore has one of the leading research teams in the world who work on perfecting perovskite solar cells for multiple uses. They have been experimenting with restructuring the element’s composition so that it will become adaptable to color spectrums. What this means is that computer and television devices that run off of photovoltaic cells containing perovskite will be able to emit light and charge themselves from the sunlight. The research team has also been experimenting with tinted perovskite solar windows and lasers that operate off of perovskite solar batteries.

Presently the ability to use solar energy is not cheap. However, this highly luminescent material scientists are now focused on can bridge the gap between cost and efficiency. For example, silicone based cells cost an average of 75 cents for every watt, which is not expensive for manufacturing small items. However, a lot of them are needed to manufacture solar panels for houses. Let’s say a “green” minded homeowner wanted every appliance in the house to run off of silicone based cells, the cost would be immense and using that many silicone based cells would not be efficient. Likewise, using Gallium Arsenide would be just as expensive even though it is extremely efficient; it costs close to $1200 per kilogram. The upside is that scientific researchers want to “go green,” and they are excited that perovskite based cells are so inexpensive to make--hoping that maybe one day they will be able to compete with fossil fuels and silicone based cells. Although the efficiency rate is only up to 19 percent, researchers agree that they can reach 50 percent efficiency very soon.

With enough evidence to support their research and reports that perovskite materials will revolutionize the use and need for solar energy, scientists and researchers can confidently convince the world that “going green” is the better than using nuclear power or consuming fossil fuels for energy. With the multiple properties that perovskite based materials have, like their ability to convert more than half of the sun’s energy into electricity, making products such as solar panels will cost considerably less than what they do now. “Going green” with perovskite cell powered devices will be worth the investment because they will last longer and use less electricity. Even science and technology critics who regard research in the field of solar energy as passé and disappointingly expensive have quieted, as they and the rest of the world watch scientists from around the globe overcome challenge after challenge. They too quietly hope that each discovery scientists make with the perovskite cell's will bring the world closer to using cost efficient solar energy.