Next-generation Solar Energy Conversion with Functional Hybrid Materials
As the most abundant renewable energy source, solar energy is a crucial component of decarbonizing the global energy sector. However, the widespread adoption of solar energy could intensify land competition among activities, leading to potential environmental impacts, such as biodiversity loss. This land use challenge is due in part to the inherent limitations of market-dominating silicon photovoltaics, which have limited flexibility and low theoretical efficiency (~29%).
Hybrid materials, such as metal-halide perovskites, offer promising solutions for advancing photovoltaics by combining desirable optical, electronic, and structural properties beyond those of silicon. In this talk, I will first detail my work on the design of perovskite heterostructures to advance next-generation photovoltaics in two emerging directions: luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) for land-saving integrated photovoltaics, and high-efficiency tandem photovoltaics. For LSCs, I introduce the concept of narrowband exciton routing using phase-tuned self-assembled quantum wells, which allows for low-loss perovskite-based LSCs with high internal quantum efficiency and large dimensions. For tandem solar cells, I develop mixed-dimensional heterojunctions to reduce the oxidation of tin-lead perovskite bottom cells, ultimately leading to over 26%-efficiency all-perovskite tandem solar cells - exceeding the efficiency of single-junction perovskites for the first time.
I will then describe the commercialization prospects of next-generation photovoltaic technologies. My recent research has shown that interface engineering can enhance the performance of perovskite solar cells, but at the expense of high-temperature operating stability. Through the design of molecular passivators, I have demonstrated commercial-viable operating-stable single-junction perovskites. However, the commercialization of high-efficiency tandem/triple-junction technologies require more innovative solutions for stability breakthroughs. Furthermore, sustainability challenges must be addressed to ensure the large-scale deployment of these technologies. This includes replacing toxic solvents, minimizing lead leakage and end-life recycling strategies.