27 October 2014

SPECIFIC Research Furthers Understanding of Perovskite Solar Cells

Combining TGA with FTIR benefits coatings research

A new technique developed here at SPECIFIC has helped to improve understanding of the chemical changes that occur in perovskite solar cells during heat treatment.

The work, by Alice Williams and colleagues, was recently published by the Journal of Materials Chemistry. With this new technique Alice hopes to understand why perovskites degrade so quickly and hence how the lifetime of these promising materials can be extended. Here she gives a brief summary of the work.

Research paper Summary

Our paper describes how loss of volatiles during annealing, and the properties and composition of the resulting materials, can be evaluated in real-time for CH3NH3PbI3-xClx perovskites, commonly used as light harvesters in photovoltaic devices.  The novel, ‘hyphenated’ technique of simultaneous thermal analysis coupled with infrared spectroscopy (STA-FTIR) enables correlation of thermally-induced events, such as mass loss and phase change, with any gaseous species evolved. 

Using these methods leads not only to a greater understanding of what is actually happening during the annealing step, but also gives a brand new insight into composition of the resulting perovskite; for example, solvent retention following different annealing protocols is readily determined, and species evolved during decomposition can help to clarify chemical content of the annealed material.

The Technique

The novel, ‘hyphenated’ technique of simultaneous thermal analysis coupled with infrared spectroscopy (STA-FTIR) allows simultaneous, real-time analysis of volatiles evolved from, and structural changes occurring within, materials undergoing processing.  Functional materials have particular manufacturing requirements for optimal performance.  To achieve optimisation it is important to understand both the mechanisms by which a material is formed and the way a given material behaves when subjected to certain conditions; STA-FTIR provides a powerful and elegant complementary method for probing both.

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Content available in Welsh on request by emailing info-specific@swansea.ac.uk