Emerging Light-Trapping Strategies and New Lead-Free Hybrid Perovskite Layers for Clean Energy

Conceptual illustration of a new photovoltaic device with nanopatterned light-trapping electrodes on the top and bottom interfaces of the active material layer.

The use of perovskites as light-harvesting layers has become an important technology for low-cost solar cells that are capable of converting more than 20 percent of sunlight into electricity. The basis for such solar cells are the properties of lead-based hybrid perovskite layers, including very high absorption of solar light and great electrical properties.

Unfortunately, as these products degrade, they create significant environmental concerns. This limits their potential for large-scale implementation. Therefore, researchers are working to develop lead-free metal halide perovskite materials and corresponding solar cell architectures to optimize their performance. Leaders of this program aim to achieve this by:

  • Exploiting novel light-trapping structures to achieve broadband, polarization and angle-insensitive absorption enhancement in lead-free perovskite layers.
  • Fabricating ultra-thin methylammonium tin triiodide (MASnI3) layers in complete photovoltaic devices for tests.
  • Performing first-principles calculations to identify other lead-free perovskite materials with optical and/or electronic properties suitable for use in these photovoltaics devices.

The project’s principal investigator is Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. Co-principal investigators are Mark Swihart, PhD, professor in Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Eva Zurek, PhD, professor in the Department of Chemistry.