Perovskite solar cells have garnered significant attention in recent years due to their high efficiency and low production cost. However, their stability has remained a concern. Researchers at Forschungszentrum Jülich have made a groundbreaking discovery regarding the behavior of free charge carriers in these cells, shedding light on their unique characteristics. By employing innovative photoluminescence measurements, the researchers have uncovered a special form of protection from recombination that contributes to the cells’ exceptional efficiency. This article explores the findings and their implications for the future of perovskite solar cells.
The lifetime of excited charge carriers plays a crucial role in the efficiency of solar cells. In a perovskite solar cell, when photons dislodge electrons, they are raised to a higher energy level. For these electrons to contribute to electricity generation, their lifetime must be long enough for them to pass through the absorber material and reach the electrical contact. However, defects in the crystal lattice cause the excited electrons to recombine with holes in the valence band, preventing them from participating in the current flow.
Recombination is the primary loss process in all solar cells, and it has been believed that defects energetically located between the valence and conduction bands trigger this phenomenon. These deep defects act as collection points where excited electrons quickly fall back to lower energy levels. However, the research conducted at Forschungszentrum Jülich challenges this assumption for perovskite solar cells. The findings reveal that shallow defects near the valence or conduction band are the decisive factors in determining the cells’ efficiency.
Unlike deep defects found in most solar cells, shallow defects in perovskite solar cells are not located in the middle of the band gap. Instead, they are situated close to the valence or conduction band. This unusual behavior has not yet been fully explained, but it suggests that deep defects may simply not exist in perovskite materials. This restriction could be one of the reasons behind the remarkable efficiency of perovskite solar cells.
The groundbreaking observations made by the researchers were made possible through the use of innovative transient photoluminescence measurements. Previous measurements were unable to distinguish between loss processes caused by shallow defects and other factors. However, the new measuring method developed at Forschungszentrum Jülich offers a significantly increased dynamic range, providing data over a larger measuring range with better fine gradation. This technique, based on the principle of HDR images, enables superimposing different measurements with varied levels of amplification to create a comprehensive data set.
The discovery of a special form of protection from recombination in perovskite solar cells sheds light on the unique behavior of free charge carriers. The findings challenge previous assumptions regarding the role of defects in solar cells and highlight the importance of shallow defects in determining the efficiency of perovskite solar cells. This research opens up new avenues for further improving the efficiency and stability of perovskite-based photovoltaics. By enhancing our understanding of charge carrier behavior, scientists can unlock the full potential of these highly promising solar cells, bringing us closer to a sustainable and cost-effective energy future.