Sheffield team’s boost for solar cell research

Scientists from Sheffield University have created a new type of solar cell - a discovery that could cut the cost of the renewable electricity they generate.

The new cells are made of a material called perovskite, which can be sprayed on in a way similar to how cars are painted during manufacture.

It means solar cells can be applied quickly and efficiently as part of a mass production process.

The Sheffield team has previously used the spray-painting method to produce solar cells using organic semiconductors - but using perovskite is a major step forward.

The new material is seen as very promising for the green energy industry as it combines high efficiency with low material costs.

And the spray-painting process wastes very little of the perovskite material and can be scaled to high volume manufacturing.

Lead researcher Professor David Lidzey said: “There is a lot of excitement around perovskite based photovoltaics.

“Remarkably this class of material offers the potential to combine the high performance of mature solar cell technologies with low embedded energy costs of production of organic photovoltaics.”

While most solar cells are manufactured using energy intensive materials like silicon, perovskites by comparison require much less energy to make.

By spray-painting the perovskite layer in air the team hope the overall energy used to make a solar cell can be reduced further.

The Sheffield team found that by spray-painting the perovskite they could make prototype solar cells with efficiency of up to 11 per cent.

Solar power is becoming an increasingly important component of the world-wide renewables energy market.