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Perovskites: A Solar Solution

Perovskites, a family of materials with unique electric properties, have the potential to revolutionize a variety of fields, including next-generation solar cells. Researchers have been exploring ways to make perovskite devices that are more cost-effective and time-efficient, and a recent study by a team of scientists at Penn State University has made significant progress towards that goal.

The team has developed a new process to fabricate large perovskite devices that is more efficient than traditional methods. The method allows for the creation of very large bulk samples within several minutes, instead of days or weeks using traditional methods. The materials produced are high quality and can compete with single-crystal perovskites.

The researchers used a sintering method called the electrical and mechanical field-assisted sintering technique (EM-FAST) to create the devices. Sintering is a commonly used process to compress fine powders into a solid mass of material using heat and pressure. The EM-FAST technique uses dry materials, which opens up new possibilities for the inclusion of new dopants, ingredients added to tailor device properties, that are not compatible with the wet chemistry used to make thin films. This could potentially accelerate the discovery of new materials.

In addition, the EM-FAST technique allows for layered materials, where one powder is layered underneath another to create designer compositions. This opens up the possibility for manufacturers to design specific devices and then directly print them from dry powders.

The EM-FAST technique, also known as spark plasma sintering, involves applying electric current and pressure to powders to create new materials. The process has a 100% yield, meaning that all the raw ingredients go into the final device, as opposed to the 20% to 30% yield in solution-based processing.

The technique produced perovskite materials at 0.2 inches per minute, allowing scientists to create large devices quickly that maintained high performance in laboratory tests. The team reported their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Penn State scientists have long used EM-FAST to create thermoelectric devices. This work represents the first attempt to create perovskite materials with the technique, and the researchers believe that it could open the door to new breakthroughs in the field.

“This opens up possibilities to design and develop new classes of materials, including better thermoelectric and solar materials, as well as X- and γ-ray detectors,” said Amin Nozariasbmarz, assistant research professor at Penn State and a co-author. “Some of the applications are things we already know, but because this is a new technique to make new halide perovskite materials with controlled properties, structures, and compositions, maybe there is room in the future for new breakthroughs to come from that.”

The team’s work represents an exciting step forward in the development of cost-effective and time-efficient perovskite devices. The potential applications of this research are vast, and it could have significant implications for fields such as renewable energy and electronics. The research highlights the importance of continued investment in scientific research and development, which has the potential to drive progress and innovation in a wide range of industries.

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