Researchers from Princeton University’s Engineering School developed the first perovskite solar cell with a commercial viable lifetime. Perovskites (PSCs) are lightweight and flexible semiconductors with a crystalline structure. Between 2009 and 2022, research has helped increase the efficiency of perovskite solar cells from 3% to over 25%. Perovskite solar cells are currently unavailable on the commercial market due to their fragility and lack of long-term durability.

The Princeton research team, led by Lynn Loo, improved the stability and durability of the perovskite solar cell. Loo, along with postdoctoral researcher Xiaoming Zhao, developed a thin layer between the absorbing perovskite layer and charge-carrying layer of the solar cell. This optimized light absorption while protecting the fragile areas of the cell.

The newly developed solar cell can perform above industry standards for around 30 years, longer than the 20 year viability of the silicon solar cells produced today. Loo stated that “we might have the record today… but someone else is going to come along with a better record tomorrow. The really exciting thing is that we now have a way to test these devices and know how they will perform in the long term.”

Lynn Loo also discussed how the development of new PSC technologies will likely make solar panels cheaper, more efficient, and more durable. Another advantage is that perovskites can be manufactured more sustainably than silicon solar cells. This is because they can be developed at room temperature while silicon solar cells are manufactured at 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. Ultimately, the continued research and development of new solar technologies will improve the future of the solar industry.