Sun-Powered Recovery: The Revolutionary Self-Healing Perovskite Solar Cells

July 25, 2023
1 min read

Perovskite Solar Cells (PSCs) have been touted as a promising solution for powering low-cost space hardware, thanks to their lightweight structure, affordability, and high efficiency. Australian researchers have propelled this potential further, demonstrating PSCs’ unique ability to recover from radiation-induced damage in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) environments.

The study, led by Professor Anita Ho-Baillie at the University of Sydney, was a multidisciplinary exploration of PSCs’ response to proton radiation exposure, a significant hurdle for solar technology in space.

Unraveling the Mysteries of Radiation Resistance

“We hope that the insights generated by this work will help future efforts in developing low-cost light-weight solar cells for future space applications,” Professor Ho-Baillie declared.

The team’s focus centered on the hole transport material (HTM), a key component responsible for conducting photo-generated positive charges to the cell’s electrode. By fine-tuning the HTM, the researchers discovered that PSCs could remarkably recover up to 100% of their original efficiency via thermal annealing in a vacuum.

However, not all HTMs performed equally. Cells featuring a prevalent HTM, 2,2′,7,7′-Tetrakis[N,N-di(4-methoxyphenyl)amino]-9,9′-spirobifluorene (Spiro-OMeTAD), and a popular dopant, lithium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (LiTFSI), were less radiation tolerant.

Through chemical analysis, the team found that proton radiation-induced fluorine diffusion from LiTFSI introduced defects to the perovskite photo-absorber’s surface, triggering cell degradation and efficiency losses.

Probing the Potential of Self-Healing Solar Cells

Crucially, cells without Spiro-OMeTAD and LiTFSI, and with HTMs Poly[bis(4-phenyl) (2,5,6-trimethylphenyl) (PTAA) or a combination of PTAA and 2,7-Dioctyl[1]benzothieno[3,2-b][1]benzothiophene (C8BTBT), with tris(pentafluorophenyl)borane (TPFB) as the dopant, showed an absence of fluorine diffusion related damage.

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Further, any degradation from proton-radiation in these configurations could be reversed by heat treatment in a vacuum, making them highly desirable for future space-based solar technology.

Lead author Dr. Shi Tang emphasized the significance of this revelation, saying, “Thanks to the support provided by Exciton Science, we were able to acquire the deep-level transient spectroscopy capability to study the defect behavior in the cells.”

Implications and Future Prospects

The discovery paves the way for a future where satellites and other space hardware use resilient, self-healing solar panels. The use of ultrathin, radiation-resistant, and optically transparent sapphire substrates further propels the high power-to-weight ratio, offering a promising path for commercial applications.

This groundbreaking research, published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials, demonstrates the potential of next-generation solar cells that could significantly impact the future of space exploration and energy harnessing.

Rahul Somvanshi

Rahul, possessing a profound background in the creative industry, illuminates the unspoken, often confronting revelations and unpleasant subjects, navigating their complexities with a discerning eye. He perpetually questions, explores, and unveils the multifaceted impacts of change and transformation in our global landscape. As an experienced filmmaker and writer, he intricately delves into the realms of sustainability, design, flora and fauna, health, science and technology, mobility, and space, ceaselessly investigating the practical applications and transformative potentials of burgeoning developments.

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