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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R043272/1
Title: High Performance and Stable Perovskite Solar Cells Based on Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanotube Arrays
Principal Investigator: Zhang, Dr W
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Canadian Solar Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., LTD
Department: ATI Electronics
Organisation: University of Surrey
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 October 2018 Ends: 31 December 2020 Value (£): 191,365
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Solar Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
11 Apr 2018 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 11 and 12 April 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Exploring clean and sustainable energy resources to meet the ever-increasing global energy demand becomes one of the biggest challenges in this century. This is due to the depletion of fossil fuels within the next 50 years and public concern on the environmental and climate change related to the consumption of fossil fuels. Solar energy is one of the most important renewable energy resources, due to its wide availability and low environmental impact. Photovoltaic (PV) solar cells that can directly convert photons into electricity present an ideal solution to harvest solar energy. A recent forecast predicts that solar PVs will contribute nearly a third of newly installed electricity generation capacity worldwide between now and 2030. Although crystalline silicon solar cells still dominate the PV market due to high module efficiency and mature techniques, they are still less competitive in cost to the traditional energy resources, which calls for the development of novel PV technologies with the highest performance and the lowest cost. Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have emerged as a new class of thin film solar cells based on earth-abundant materials and cheap deposition techniques. The unexpected boosting of device performance in terms of power conversion efficiency (PCE) has rocketed up from an initial 3.8% to a certified 22.7% within a few years' research efforts, which is unprecedented in the history of PV technologies. Although PSCs are very promising to take a significant PV market share in the next few years, their commercialization is still hampered by the relatively poor material stability under ambient conditions. Moreover, the cost of solar power is determined not only by the PV modules themselves but also by the fixed costs of frames, inverters, installation and land, etc. Because the fixed costs are not reduced as fast as the cost of PV modules, the key route to continuously reduce the cost of solar powers is to enhance the absolute PCE of the PV modules, without overtly increasing their cost.

In this proposal, we aim to provide a solution to these challenges of large-scale deployment of PSCs, by further pushing the PCE of state-of-the-art PSCs toward their theoretical limit, and simultaneously improving their long-term stability. Our methodologies largely rely on the combination of new materials and innovation of device structure. In particular, we will employ carbon nanotube (CNT) arrays and fullerenes as the charge collection layers in a new device structure termed as "vertical heterojunction". This "full carbon" based PSCs are expected to exhibit improved PCE and stability beyond the-state-of-the-art devices. This is because both CNT arrays and fullerenes are good charge carrier conductors, and vertically aligned CNT arrays will further enhance the charge collection efficiency due to the direct charge transport pathways toward the conductive substrates and much larger contact areas between perovskite and CNTs. Another important innovation of this project is that the carbon nanomaterials work simultaneously as the encapsulating materials that protect perovskite from moisture and heat, so as to improve the device long-term stability without increasing production cost. This study will provide new insights into the development of novel interfacial materials and device structures towards more efficient and stable PSCs for their future commercialisation. Whilst this proposal primarily responds to calls within the PSC community for detailed investigations on device efficiency and stability, it naturally supports the domestic research based on solution-processed thin film PVs in general, thereby helping to maintain the U.K.'s leading position in advanced solar cell concepts and technology development.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.surrey.ac.uk