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2019-04-18. To amp up solar cells, scientists ditch silicon.

posted Apr 22, 2019, 12:19 PM by Alan D. GOULD BA
By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/amp-solar-cells-scientists-ditch-silicon] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10. Excerpt: Silicon dominates the world of solar power. Even the newest solar cell designs, tandem devices that have a silicon solar cell below a cell made of a crystalline material called a perovskite, rely on the material. Now, researchers are doing away with silicon altogether, creating tandems from two of the best yet perovskites, each tailored to absorb a different part of the solar spectrum. Because perovskites are easier to manufacture than silicon cells, the advance could lead to less costly solar power. ...Improvements in technology and manufacturing have dropped the price of [silicon] cells some 88% in the past decade, .... That has prompted, over the same period, a more than 30-fold increase in solar energy deployment around the world to more than 30 billion watts, or 30 gigawatts, of installed capacity, enough to power at least 3.7 million homes. Perovskite solar cells aim to build on these trends. These crystalline materials, typically made from lead, iodine, bromine, and other abundant elements, are cheap to make; unlike silicon, they are easy to process into sunlight-absorbing layers. Their efficiency at converting sunlight into electricity has also risen to near the level of the best silicon solar cells: from just 3.8% to more than 24% over the past decade. Perovskites are also better than silicon at absorbing high-energy blue photons from sunlight. ...can reportedly achieve 28% solar-to-electrical efficiency....