Researchers at Stanford University have found a way to augment ordinary silicon solar cells with a material called a perovskite, according to TechnologyReview.com.
Putting this new kind of photovoltaic material on top of a conventional solar cell, instead of using conventional, traditional or wafer-based cells which are made of crystalline silicon compounds can boost overall power output by up to 50 percent. Adding perovskite to a silicon solar cell also validates the idea for cost-effectively increasing the efficiency of solar power.
The perovskite used by the Stanford team contains relatively abundant and cheap materials including ammonia, iodine, and lead to make up its crystalline structure. Using cheaper materials can come with a different kind of cost, however, because one of the main challenges with pairing perovskite cells with silicon ones is that they don’t last nearly as long as conventional materials.
Much work remains to be done before such cells are ready for market, but if harnessed correctly, researchers believe that perovskite-silicon cells will convert over 30 percent of the energy in sunlight into electricity. A boost of this magnitude would cut the number of solar panels for some installations almost in half, greatly lowering installation costs.