Perovskite Solar Cells (PSC) have their genesis in Dye Solar Cells (DSC). Rather than an incremental change, PSC burst onto the scene with a world-record in emerging photovoltaic (PV) technologies by Greatcell Solar’s research partner EPFL. This radical step change largely rendered DSC and Organic PV (OPV) obsolete in one fell swoop, giving dramatically higher energy conversion efficiency and significantly better large-area processing. The basic building block of a PSC is the exceptionally strong light harvesting “perovskite” crystal structure (shown left). This amazing material can absorb sunlight with a hundred times thinner active layers than silicon solar cells.
PSC technology holds the record for the fastest advancing PV technology of all time. In around half a decade it has improved in efficiency to levels that took half a century for silicon solar cells to reach. Its trajectory is, therefore, relatively steep. Now competitive in efficiency with all existing large-area PV technologies, including silicon, CdTe, and CIGS, perovskite solar cells have the added advantages of extremely low materials utilisation and very simple manufacturing processes.
This highly advantageous combination of high performance and low cost makes PSC the PV technology of the future. Additionally, the fabrication processes used are amenable to functionalising a range of substrates with PSC, giving an enormous opportunity in untapped markets such as BIPV, as well as existing markets like utility solar farms.
Greatcell Solar has leveraged its extensive experience in scale-up of the emerging DSC PV technology, and thanks to the close relationship in the technologies has successfully transitioned this expertise to PSC. In a couple of years, the Company has scaled PSC to the same size as it required ten years for DSC. During this time, Greatcell has also developed PSC-specific know-how and capabilities which are unmatched around the world. Our expertise ranges from scale-up of raw materials, synthesis of PSC-specific chemicals, and large-area, low cost solution coating processing of perovskite and related materials on various substrates.
Intellectual horse-power is at the heart of our organisation, and intellectual property (IP) is a key outcome from our work. This takes the forms of registered patents, both owned by Greatcell and licensed from our research partners, such as EPFL and Solliance. It also exists in our many trade secrets, know-how and processes, kept away from others working in the field in order to provide competitive advantage. Greatcell maintains an active register of internal IP as a protection against potential “inventions” by 3rd parties. In addition, our extensive experience in materials scale-up provides us with a definitive cost advantage and a head-start on others wishing to enter the domain. Combined, this portfolio of patents, licensed IP, know-how and industrial-scale materials and device capabilities provides the Company with a strong competitive advantage.