This project lays the scientific foundation for a new type of high-efficiency solid-state solar cells that can be fabricated using relatively inexpensive materials and processes. These solar cells have the potential to advance the field of photovoltaics significantly, and to have an impact on reducing the cost of renewable energy to make it more competitive. This project is timely and highly relevant as there is an urgent need for efficient, low-cost, and durable way to generate electricity from renewable sources, such as the sun, in these times of global energy/environment crisis. New energy materials used in these solar cells and their properties, the complex nanoscale architectures needed, and the novel ceramics synthesis/processing methods used to achieve those architectures are being investigated. The effects of the materials and the nanoscale architectures on the solar cells performance are also elucidated to gain a better understanding of fundamental phenomena. The ceramics synthesis/processing science studies conducted here also impact the creation of novel nano-composites for applications beyond solar cells.

TECHNICAL DETAILS: This project addresses key ceramics science issues pertaining to the new high-efficiency solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells (SSDSCs). Solution-processed, hole-conducting cesium tin iodide perovskite semiconductors are used within continuous nanopores of electron-conducting titania films in SSDSCs in place of the conventionally used liquid electrolytes and platinum. The key issues that are being addressed include understanding the new ingredient in the SSDSCs -- the cesium tin iodide perovskites themselves, the way the perovskites are incorporated into the SSDSCs nanoscale architecture through ceramics synthesis/processing, and the nature of the titania-sensitizer-perovskite nanoscale architecture and interfaces. The effect of the nanoscale architecture on photovoltaic properties/performance are also elucidated, contributing to the advancement of the science and engineering of the new SSDSCs. Considering the recent interest in halide perovskites in general for application in fields of photovoltaics and topological insulators, the basic studies conducted in this project on these materials are timely and highly relevant. As part of this project two undergraduates, one graduate student and one post-doctoral researcher are being educated and trained in the broad area of energy materials. Outreach to K-12 students is also underway using solar cells demonstrations to get them excited about STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) fields.

This grant is funded jointly by the Ceramics (CER) and Electronic and Photonic Materials (EPM) Programs.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Lynnette Madsen
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Brown University
United States
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