Varun Sivaram, Samuel Stranks, and Henry Snaith have written an article for Scientific American about the wonders of perovskite solar cells, which are capable of stunning achievements in the laboratory. Sivaram says, ” [M]any of us believe this is the field’s biggest breakthrough since the original invention of the solar cell sixty years ago.” Why is that?
According to Vox, “In the future, solar power won’t just come from bulky blue panels on rooftops. The solar panels of tomorrow will be transparent, lightweight, flexible, and ultra-efficient. We’ll be able to coat shingles or skylights or windows with them — and it’ll all be as cheap as putting up wallpaper.” One principal advantage they have over conventional solar technology is that they can be engineered to react to many different wavelengths of light. That lets them convert more of the sunlight that strikes them into electricity.
Wow! That is some pretty exciting stuff. Why don’t we have perovskite solar panels right now? One answer is, there is often a huge difference between performance in the lab and performance in the real world. Another thing is that many perovskite solar cells use lead as a principal ingredient. And they deteriorate rapidly in the presence of moisture. Silicon solar cells may be clunky, but they last 25 years or more.