Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers are at the forefront of solar cell technology, with the Queensland Government set deliver highly efficient, stable and considerably cheaper solar technology.
The team led by Associate Professor Prashant Sonar, in collaboration with Swansea University, has discovered and developed a new material that could ‘pave the way’ for highly-efficient and stable solar panels, that will be inexpensive and cost-effective in comparison to other alternatives currently on market. Based on an orange dye called anthanthrone, the material is used to produce printable ‘perovskite’ solar cells, which could ultimately be manufactured as blinds, shade sails and even clothing. QUT Associate Professor Prashant Sonar said that after almost a decade of work on the development of the material, ‘the breakthrough held great promise’.
Queensland Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said Queensland currenlty leads the way with rooftop solar and in the number of solar projects operational now and in the building, and planning and construction stages, so it is hardly surprising that Queensland researchers also are at the cutting edge.
“Professor Sonar and his team may well have made the breakthrough that will make future solar panels affordable for more and more Queenslanders,” Dr Lynham said.
“The types of solar panels that many people think of are the sort that sits on a roof. These are silicon based and are large and rigid. Perovskite is an emerging technology for developing solar cells, which has become increasingly efficient in recent years and allows for much greater flexibility in its use,” Associate Professor Sonar said.
Generally, the issue of cost is a deterrent for people using solar cell technology, so it is great that Sonar’s work focuses so heavily on using a low-cost dye-based material.
“It is about five times cheaper than the material that is currently used for perovskite and this means that solar panels could eventually be produced for a fraction of the price that they are now,” the professor explained.
Another challenge for the team was to ensure that the solar cells were stable and efficient in changing weather conditions.
“I am pleased that, with careful engineering, we have been able to achieve both. Together with colleagues at Swansea University, we have shown for the first time, how low-cost anthanthrone-dye-based hole transporting materials can exhibit higher performance, with 17.5 per cent efficiency, and retain respectable performance after 50 hours in 58 per cent relative humidity.”
These improvements in perovskite solar cells have the potential to change the solar industry and make perovskite the best low-cost, high-efficiency solar cell material in the near future.
Associate Professor Sonar said the next step would be to commercialise the product as a printable solar material, with work also progressing to produce perovskite solar cells lead-free.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Dr Lynham have also just launched the interest-free solar system loans package, alongside Dr Lynham’s other recent announcement of the tender for suppliers for battery storage.