The use of solar cells has been the talk for years now and even used in lots of places to generate electricity. I have heard what a great idea it is and how the energy generated is similar to energy coming from fossil fuels which hold harmful effect on the environment. So why aren’t they used exclusively instead? Well, there are considerable limitations to the current silicon solar cells on market now.
What is wrong with the current widely used solar cells and why perovskites solar cells are better? To answer this we have to consider the limitations of silicon solar cells.
Silicon photovoltaic cells are made of matter which is hard to find in its pure form: silicon. The pure is obtained by separating it from silicon dioxide, which is beach sand. Well, sand is found is abundance but the problem arises when silicon needs to be separated. Silicon dioxide has to be melted at very high temperatures inside furnace and the cost of doing so is very high. Also, this adds greenhouse gases in the air. Not exactly helpful when one of the purpose of solar cells are to cut down emissions in the air from generating electricity.
Perovskites on the other hand are made of organic molecules, mostly carbon and hydrogen, which bind with metal such as lead and halogen to form a three dimensional crystal lattice. This can be produced much more cheaply and with few emission in the process.
The other problem is their size and weight; silicon solar cells have to be of flat and placed in large heavy panels to work best. This is expensive and therefore seen mostly on rooftops and huge lands specifically for solar panels to generate electricity.
Perovskites can be manufactured as thin films which can be shaped to fit any surfaces. Since they are thin films they are very light so they can be applied to wearable devices and other appliances.
The third limitation is the power conversion efficiency which has been stuck at 25 percent for many years.
The perovskites produced energy much less when they were first discovered, however, due to the integration of different chemical materials the efficiency has increased greatly. There is potential for the efficiency to get higher still.
There is still research going on perovskites to know how safe they are and how easily they are weathered over years of use. But eventually once perfected they could change how we see solar cells now.