The ability to paint solar cells onto any surface could transform our relationship with electricity forever. It’s currently possible using perovskite solar cells (PSCs), but their unstable nature makes them not quite ready for mass production. Researchers from the Graphene Flagship have developed a hybrid of graphene and molybdenum disulphide quantum dots, which stabilize PSCs.
There’s been a lot of hope for stable, market-ready PSCs. They’re relatively easy and inexpensive to produce, and can be placed almost anywhere due to their flexibility. Solar panels are rigid and often too large to place anywhere but a large, flat rooftop surface.
PSCs have come a long way since their inception in 2009, at which point their efficiency was just 3.8%. Today, they’re capable of efficiencies above 22%. Silicon-based solar cells have been around for 130 years and only reached 26.1% efficiency in 2018.
The problem is the instability of PSCs. Adding graphene to the mix not only reduced the instability, but improved its performance. If PSCs are able to be produced with better stability, it opens the door to mass commercial production, which means at least theoretically we could coat nearly any surface and turn it into a solar panel, capable of generating electricity for our homes and devices.