Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne & FSU Scientists Discover Structure Dynamics to Improve Solar Cells

To help bring halide perovskites – promising materials for solar cells – from the lab to commercialization, researchers at Florida State University and DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory examined them under real-world conditions. The scientists found that light and electric fields can create changes in the material’s basic properties and affect the lattice structure that’s crucial to keeping the material stable. Assistant Professor of Chemistry Lea Nienhaus has published a new study in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory that examines what happens when this material — called a halide perovskite — faces real-world conditions as opposed to pristine conditions of a chemistry lab.

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Solar power technology has grown tremendously in the United States over the past two decades. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the country’s solar capacity has grown from .34 gigawatts in 2008 to 97.2 gigawatts today.

But scientists and engineers around the world are still working to create better and more efficient materials to improve solar technologies, making them cheaper and longer lasting.

Halide perovskites are thought to be one of the most promising materials for solar technology. Lead halide perovskites have a crystal structure based on a positively charged lead ion known as cation, an organic and/or inorganic cation and negatively charged halide anions. Nienhaus and others have manipulated these structures to create films that would be the basis of a solar cell.

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