Financial source: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Research team: Juan Pedro Espinós Manzorro
Work team: Xabier García Casas, Víctor López Flores, Javier Castillo Seoane
Solar cells – devices that transform sunlight into electricity – are of vital interest for the sustainable future of the planet. During the last years and aware of this fact, the scientific community has made a great effort to improve the efficiency of these devices. A particular example of a solar cell that contains an organometallic halide perovskite as light absorber has focused the attention of the scientific community during the last decade due, above all, to its high efficiency and low cost. This solar cell technology is a promising alternative to currently existing ones (based on Si and chalcogenides), although they face a scientific and technological challenge that has not been solved in 10 years since its discovery: for the commercial realization of the perovskite cells possible, they need to achieve higher stability, durability and reproducibility. The main problem lies in the high sensitivity of these perovskites to oxygen and environmental humidity, which produce a rapid degradation of the cell’s behaviour in an extremely short time, making commercialization unfeasible.
DuraSol seeks to address this great scientific and technological challenge by manufacturing cell components using vacuum and plasma technology. These methodologies are industrially scalable and present great advantages over solution methods (the most used), among which are: their high versatility, control of composition and microstructure, low cost, environmentally friendly since they do not require solvents, do not produce pollutant emissions and are compatible with current semiconductor technology.
The main objective of DuraSol is the fabrication of waterproof perovskite solar cells by integrating components manufactured by vacuum and plasma methodologies in the form of thin films and nanostructures, which act as hydrophobic sealants. The viability of DuraSol is based on recent results that demonstrate that plasma-assisted synthesis of different components of the solar cell can be one of the most promising ways to increase its stability and durability, which is today the bottleneck that prevents their commercialization. It is worth to highlight that there is no example in the literature about this synthetic approach, and this opportunity is expected to demonstrate the advantages and versatility of this innovative methodology in a field of very high impact. The research proposed in DuraSol falls within the priority areas of the European Union Horizon 2021-2027 program and responds to several of the challenges proposed in this call for “Energía segura, eficiente y limpia” (Challenge 3) and “Cambio climático y utilización de recursos y materias primas” (Challenge 5).