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NTU scientists make breakthrough solar technology

In the near future, solar panels will not only be more efficient but also a lot cheaper and affordable for everyone, thanks to research by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) scientists.

This next generation solar cell, made from organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite materials, is about five times cheaper than current thin-film solar cells, due to a simpler solution-based manufacturing process.

Perovskite is known to be a remarkable solar cell material as it can convert up to 15 per cent of sunlight to electricity, close to the efficiency of the current solar cells, but scientists did not know why or how, until now.

In a paper published last Friday (18 Oct) in the world's most prestigious academic journal, Science, NTU's interdisciplinary research team was the first in the world to explain this phenomenon.

The team of eight researchers led by Assistant Professor Sum Tze Chien and Dr Nripan Mathews had worked closely with NTU Visiting Professor Michael Grtzel, who currently holds the record for perovskite solar cell efficiency of 15 per cent, and is a co-author of the paper. Prof Grtzel, who is based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), has won multiple awards for his invention of dye-sensitised solar cells.

The high sunlight-to-electricity efficiency of perovskite solar cells places it in direct competition with thin film solar cells which are already in the market and have efficiencies close to 20 per cent.

The new knowledge on how these solar cells work is now being applied by the Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N), which is developing a commercial prototype of the perovskite solar cell in collaboration with Australian clean-tech firm Dyesol Limited (ASX: DYE).

Asst Prof Sum said the discovery of why perovskite worked so well as a solar cell material was made possible only through the use of cutting-edge equipment and in close collaboration with NTU engine

Contact: Lester Kok
Nanyang Technological University

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