Chemistry, Not Electronics, Will Help Solar Reach Its Full Potential

A material that has been touted as the key to producing more efficient next-generation solar panels may soon be ready for mass production thanks to a new method developed by researchers at the University of Surrey.

The Surrey team found that fusing perovskite materials with an element called ferrocene dramatically increases the efficiency of perovskite-based solar panels. The team found that this focus on chemistry of solar panels rather than other approaches that looked at mechanical and electrical components created the intended breakthrough.

“Our research scales these perovskite cells to a minute level with a focus on the chemical compounds and their specific problems. For example, normal practice is to coat or ‘dope’ cells in lithium, but lithium absorbs water, which increases energy deficiency over time,” said Thomas Webb, postgraduate research student and project manager from the University of Surrey. “We discovered an element in organometallic chemistry called Ferrocene, which significantly improves the efficiency and stabilizes the energy loss that all solar panels have over time. Not to mention that it is cheap to produce and solves the water absorption problem. “

Perovskite materials are widely considered to be the successor to silicon because they are lightweight and much cheaper to produce. But the promise of perovskite has not yet been fulfilled due to the difficulty of copying laboratory results in mass production.

“Silicon cells are efficient but expensive to produce; perovskite materials are undoubtedly the next generation of solar cell technologies,” explains Dr. Wei Zhang, the primary supervisor of research and project manager at the University of Surrey. ensure that these can be implemented on a mass scale, but with these results we are a generous step closer to making this a reality. “

Professor Stephen Sweeney, co-supervisor of research at the University of Surrey, added: “This is a key development to advance this important new material system at a time when reliable renewable energy sources are of critical global importance. This is also a very satisfying example of how interdisciplinary research and complementary expertise across partner universities have led to a high impact. “

The project has been produced in collaboration with Imperial College London, University of Nottingham, London Southbank University, University College London and Fluxim AG. The research was published in Advanced Energy Materials.

The University of Surrey is a leading research institution that focuses on sustainability to deliver impacts that benefit society and help address the many challenges of climate change. Surrey is also committed to improving its own resource efficiency on its Guildford campuses and strives to be a sector leader. It has set a commitment to be CO2-neutral by 2030. In April, it was ranked number 55 in the world by the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings, which assess the performance of more than 1,400 universities in relation to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Figure 1 Open in figure viewer PowerPoint a) Structure of ferrocene sandwich complex. b) Unit architecture and location of ferrocene in the production of perovskite solar cells. c) Structure of spiro-OMeTAD, (red) C14H14NO2 + fragment traced in SIMS measurements. d) OrbiSIMS depth profiles of control perovskite / spiro-OMeTAD sample after 200 hours in N2, Pb2 + signal corresponding to perovskite normalized to C14H14NO2 + attributed methoxyphenolamine branches of spiro-OMeTAD. e) OrbiSIMS depth profiles of ferrocene-treated perovskite / ferrocene / spiro-OMeTAD sample after 200 hours in N2, additional Fe + is attributed to the incorporation of ferrocene. f) 3D-reconstructed secondary ion images of Li + (left, blue) and C14H14NO2 + fragment of spiro-OMeTAD (right, red) in films made without ferrocene, g) 3D reconstructed secondary ion images of Li + (left, blue) and C14H14NO2 + fragment of spiro -OMeTAD (right, red) in films made with ferrocene, identical solutions of doped spiro-OMeTAD were used for both OrbiSIMS measurements, variations in the absolute intensity of counts are attributed to matrix effects. Image: A multifaceted ferrocene intermediate layer for extremely stable and efficient lithium-doped spiro-OMeTAD-based perovskite solar cells

Lent by the University of Surrey


See our brand new E-bike guide. If you are curious about electric bikes, this is the best place to start your e-mobility journey!


Do you appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica member, supporter, technician or ambassador – or patron of Patreon.


Do you have a tip for CleanTechnica, would you like to advertise, or would you like to suggest a guest to our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.