Silicon oxide layer protects perovskite cells in space and on earth

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in a project funded by the Department of Defense and in cooperation with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), has been studying the coating of perovskite solar cells with silicon oxide. The overall goal of the research is to develop low-cost, innovative energy sources to meet the needs of the armed forces.
The silicon oxide coating, the research group found, provides good protection against »space radiation« in the form of high- and low-energy protons. The coated cells also survived a photon bombardment in the ultraviolet range similar to low-Earth orbit with little loss of efficiency, while untreated perovskite cells were destroyed after eight minutes. The silicon oxide coating, which is only micrometers thick, is also much lighter than other radiation-protective coatings for solar cells. Perovskite cells are considered a promising alternative to solar cells used in space today because of their potential for high efficiency with light weight and lower cost.
However, the method studied also promises protection against stresses in applications on Earth. Uncontrolled fluctuations in temperature and humidity, such as occur under storage conditions, were investigated here. While the efficiency of non-coated perovskite cells dropped from 19.4 to 10.8 percent within a few days, the coated cells maintained their efficiency.

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