How Lead-Free Semiconductor Perks Up PSCs

The all-new lead-free semiconductor can offer immense potential for improvements in the operational efficiency of solar cells.

FREMONT, CA: With the world increasingly embracing renewable energy, solar power has been gaining immense prominence. Realizing the value that solar energy adds to the energy landscape of the present and the future, technologists are inventing and reinventing the way solar energy is generated and used. However, one of the major drawbacks to this technology is that the solar cells and panels are designed by using toxic materials. According to EDGY Labs, this challenge can be addressed with the help of nontoxic perovskite solar cells (PSCs). The PSCs are more efficient at transforming sunlight into power than the existing solutions. Moreover, the power efficiency of silicon-comprised photovoltaic cells has constantly been increasing over the last decade. As a result, although the power conversion efficiency of silicon-based photovoltaic cells has jumped from 3.8 percent in 2009 to 24.2 percent in 2019, researchers are eyeing perovskite as the next revolution in solar technology.

Halide perovskites contain lead, which can be problematic for the environment if large-scale industrial proportions are taken into account. Researchers have come up with a new semiconductor comprising of barium, potassium, bismuth, barium, and oxygen that can replace lead-based semiconductors in the perovskite solar cells. The growing interest of researchers in Perovskites can be attributed to the fact that they have various advantages over silicon, including less cost in cell production and higher efficiency.

According to researchers, the lead-free double perovskite oxide semiconductor was one of an initial 30,000 potential bismuth-based oxide, where only 25 were known compounds. Thus, researchers used quantum mechanical calculations and informatics to find a viable semiconductor from these compounds. Once the researchers found the viable semiconductor, they synthesized the material to fabricate a solar cell with the newly discovered semiconductor. 

The new advancement opens up an opportunity for the semiconductor business. The firms can manufacture semiconductors not just for solar cell applications but also for other industrial applications such as LCD displays. The next step would be to find how the presence of defects impacts the new nontoxic semiconductor and discover more advanced synthesis techniques.

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