Teams all over the world are working intensively on the development of perovskite solar cells. The focus is on what are known as metal-organic hybrid perovskites whose crystal structure is composed of inorganic elements such as lead and iodine as well as an organic molecule.
Completely inorganic perovskite semiconductors such as CsPbI3 have the same crystalline structure as hybrid perovskites, but contain an alkali metal such as caesium instead of an organic molecule. This makes them much more stable than hybrid perovskites, but usually requires an extra production step at very high temperature – several hundred degrees Celsius. For this reason, inorganic perovskite semiconductors have thus far been difficult to integrate into thin-film solar cells that cannot withstand high temperatures. A team headed by Dr. Thomas Unold has now succeeded in producing inorganic perovskite semiconductors at moderate temperatures so that they might also be used in thin-film cells in the future.
The physicists designed an innovative experiment in which they synthesised and analysed many combinations of material within a single sample. Using co-evaporation of caesium-iodide and lead-iodide, they produced thin layers of CsPbI3, systematically varying the amounts of these elements, while the substrate-temperature was less than 60 degrees Celsius.