Compared to crystalline silicon photovoltaics that are now commonplace, perovskite photovoltaics are manufactured from affordable materials and via simpler processes. Lab tests of perovskite solutions have shown an efficiency exceeding 25%, though such high efficiency is derived from small-sized batteries only, with a dearth of colorways. In response, German scientists have come up with a marbled perovskite PV battery with much flexibility in physical dimensions.
Perovskite photovoltaics are highly efficient despite the relatively low stability of these PV modules, meaning small-sized batteries have a relatively low efficiency. That is why perovskite photovoltaics are still far from commercialization. In any case, perovskite photovoltaics are highly cost-effective and are widely applicable across a wide range of applications, including PV-integrated buildings or semitransparent photovoltaics, making them highly practical solutions.
Therefore, Professor Ulrich W. Paetzold from the IMT subsidiary of Germany-based KIT zeroed in on the potential of perovskite photovoltaics and began collaborating with industry partner SUNOVATION to investigate ink-jet printing methods for coloring perovskite PV modules.
Not only is ink-jet printing a relatively low-cost method, but it can also be applicable to large modules. Project coordinator Helge Eggers also mentioned three major advantages of the new method. Generally speaking, colored perovskite PV batteries’ colors depend on the angle of the incident light. By leveraging ink jet printing, the color of the module will essentially no longer have to depend on the angle of incidence.
Researchers have proven through various experiments that crystalline silicon PV development can also be applied to the development of perovskite PV modules, and that the cyan, magenta, and yellow PV batteries have an efficiency that is as high as 60% that of the original batteries. At the moment, marbled perovskite PV modules have an efficiency of 14%. The research team indicates that ink-jet printing allows for the mixture of various attractive colors and images, meaning this printing mechanism can give PV modules the look of construction materials.
With respect to constructing buildings with integrated PV installation, Eggers believes that relatively low-efficiency PV cells are still superior to regular walls, which supply no electricity at all. As such, the aforementioned 14% figure doesn’t seem so bad.