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Unleashing perovskites' potential for solar cells

Perovskites -- a broad category of compounds that share a certain crystal structure -- have attracted a great deal of attention as potential new solar cell materials because of their low cost, flexibility and relatively easy manufacturing process. But much remains unknown about the details of their structure and the effects of substituting different metals or other elements within the material. Conventional solar cells made of silicon must be processed at temperatures above 1,400 degrees Celsius, using expensive equipment that limits their potential for production scale-up. In contrast, perovskites can be processed in a liquid solution at temperatures as low as 100 degrees, using inexpensive equipment. Additionally, perovskites can be deposited on a variety of substrates, including flexible plastics, enabling a variety of new uses that would be impossible with thicker, stiffer silicon wafers. Now, in this study, researchers were able to decipher a key aspect of the behavior of perovskites made with different formulations: With certain additives there is a kind of "sweet spot," where greater amounts will enhance performance and beyond which further amounts begin to degrade it.

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