Solar cell concept combines the best of different worlds

November 18, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Solar cell concept combines the best of different worlds
Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are developing a fundamentally new solar cell concept: they plan to combine conventional photovoltaics with ceramic functional materials. The aim is to develop solar cells that have both the long-term stability of crystalline cells and the printability of organic techniques. The ferroelectricity of the lead halide perovskite also comes into play.

One of the most important cornerstones of a future CO2-neutral energy supply is solar energy. Solar cells can collect this energy and convert it into usable electrical energy. Over the next six years, KIT researchers will be working on a completely new material concept for solar cells in the "Innovative liquid-applied ceramic solar cells" (KeraSolar) project funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation with € 4.5 million.

The new functional materials are to be manufactured from ceramic materials that promise extraordinarily good robustness and long-term durability. However, future solar cells must have far more properties: They must be arbitrarily formable and integrable in order to transform virtually any surface into solar power plants. Their production must consume as little energy as possible, the manufacturing processes should be free of toxic substances and the necessary raw materials should be available in sufficient quantities. This is where the advantages of ceramic functional materials come into their own: they offer almost infinite possibilities for combining elements and compounds and thus achieving tailor-made material properties. This opens up a large new field of research for the project team.

Various working groups will contribute their expertise from electrical engineering, materials science, physics and chemistry to the project. They combine experimental approaches with theoretical considerations. A new experimental platform set up specifically for the KeraSolar project team will help to shape KIT's solar cell research in the long term.

The project is located at KIT's Materials Science Centre for Energy Systems (MZE) whose research program is oriented towards the major research topics related to energy conversion and storage.

 

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Picture: 
KeraSolar

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