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Next-Gen Solar Cell Degradation Paths

Project Full Title:

Exploring a Degradation Mechanism in Halide Perovskites, a Material for Next-Generation Solar Cells

Project Mentor(s):


Project Mentor(s) EMail:

Project Start Date:


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Project Description:

This interdisciplinary project will incorporate the disciplines of Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics. However, the project is specifically housed within the Hope College Department of Engineering. Interested students must reach out to Dr. Christians in person or via email prior to applying.

The development of lower cost solar cell technologies is a crucial for reducing pollution from the energy sector as well as the cost of alternative electricity generation. The technology to best achieve this goal might be so-called perovskite solar cells because of very low material costs and the potential for manufacturing by printing, similar to the printing of newspaper of photographic film. Under laboratory conditions perovskite solar cells show performances on par with current commercially available solar cells. This project addresses a major unknown for the technology at a fundamental materials chemistry level: long-term durability of perovskite films under real-world conditions. To speed up durability studies - to learn in six months if the solar cells will survive 30 years - it is necessary to understand and predict the various failure modes of the materials system.

This project focuses on understanding a specific known failure mode of perovskite solar cells, a change in the central materialís crystalline phase or structure leading to a decrease in solar cell performance. Various aspects of the perovskite materials will be carefully adjusted to gain a predictive understanding of the conditions under which they degrade and their specific failure mode. The level of understanding gained from this research is expected to serve as a guide to allow researchers to accurately understand, quantify and mitigate the effects of this failure mode during years-long outdoor operation of solar cells.

Students who are new to the project will begin work (approximately 2-3 hrs per week) during the Spring semester. This will include learning some of the basics of their project as well as getting initial training on some of the laboratory techniques that they will use in their research. Full time summer research will last a total of 10 weeks and is expected to begin on 5/09/22 and run until 7/15/22. There is flexibility with student vacation plans or other commitments during this time. Students working on this project will gain experience with the particle accelerator, materials synthesis, and an array of materials characterization techniques. This work will require students to participate in all aspects of the research process including, the development of synthesis and characterization protocols, review of scientific literature, data acquisition, data modeling and analysis, construction of experimental equipment, and research presentations.

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