How Perovskite Solar Cells Are Being Used in 2024

Autonomous energy sources are essential for powering systems independently for long durations, especially in isolated or harsh conditions, whether these are on Earth or in outer space.

Traditional energy methods such as fossil fuels, batteries, and other alternatives both residential as well as commercial solutions, often pose problems due to their large size, the need for stationary charging or cabling, environmental harm, or insufficient power density.

A promising solution comes in the form of ultrathin, flexible solar cells made from a novel material known as “perovskite.” These cells are proving to be effective and lightweight options for sustained, self-reliant energy production.

A significant advancement has been achieved by researchers at the JKU, who have developed ultra-lightweight quasi-2D perovskite solar cells. These cells not only boast a groundbreaking power output of up to 44 watts per gram but also maintain impressive stability. Their findings are documented in the journal Nature Energy.


How Were Solar Materials Developed?


Christoph Putz, a leading author of the study, observed, “These ultra-thin and lightweight solar cells hold vast potential for transforming energy generation, particularly in the aerospace sector. Moreover, their application could extend to wearable electronics and the Internet of Things, offering a key to the next generation of autonomous energy systems.”

An ultra-light and flexible solar cell module, which is 20 times thinner than a human hair, can power a diverse array of electronic devices wherever light is available. These cells are less than 2.5 micrometres thick and achieve an efficiency rate of 20.1% while remaining highly flexible. Their exceptional power density of 44 W/g distinctly differentiates them from other solar technologies.

Creating operationally reliable, stable, and flexible solar cells with an optimal power-to-weight ratio involves ensuring low gas and moisture permeability, high flexibility, and the use of transparent plastic substrates along with durable photovoltaic materials. The cells’ operational stability has been considerably enhanced by coating the thin film with a transparent aluminium oxide layer and by optimising the material used in the solar cells themselves.

What is The Difference Between Perovskite and Regular Solar Cells?


Efficiency – Perovskite solar cells have shown a rapid increase in efficiency since their development began in 2009. They have reached efficiencies exceeding 25%, which is comparable to, and in some instances surpasses, the efficiencies of the best silicon solar cells. Their ability to efficiently convert sunlight into electricity is one of their most significant advantages.

Lower Manufacturing Costs – Perovskites can be produced at lower temperatures using simpler and less expensive manufacturing processes than those required for silicon-based cells. Techniques such as solution processing, printing, or vapour-deposition are cost-effective and scalable, potentially reducing the overall cost of solar energy.

Flexibility and Weight – Unlike traditional rigid and heavy silicon panels, perovskite solar cells can be made using flexible substrates. This makes them suitable for a broader range of applications, including integration into building materials like windows or curved surfaces on vehicles.

Tandem Solar Cells – Perovskites can be used to create tandem solar cells, where a layer of perovskite is stacked on top of a silicon cell or another perovskite layer with different bandgaps. This can potentially increase the overall efficiency of the solar cell beyond the theoretical limit of a single junction solar cell (about 33.7% for silicon), capturing more of the solar spectrum.

Semi-Transparency – Perovskite solar cells can be engineered to be semi-transparent, which allows for additional applications such as integration into windows or screens, without significantly compromising on light transmission or aesthetics.


Applications in Daily Technology


To showcase the practicality of this new technology, researchers equipped a commercial, palm-sized quadcopter drone with the ultra-light solar cells. Twenty-four of these cells were integrated into the drone’s structure, constituting only 1/400th of its total mass. This setup enabled the drone to function autonomously through repeated charge-flight-charge cycles, eliminating the need for wired recharging and highlighting the cells’ efficiency and sustainability.

This technology is poised to have broad applications, from search and rescue missions and extensive mapping projects to generating solar power in space and exploring other celestial bodies.

The Mars helicopter Ingenuity recently underscored the importance of autonomous solar-powered flight by being the first aircraft to launch from Earth and successfully land on another planet.