Cross-section of the flexible perovskite solar cell. HTM indicates hole transport material.

Solar power is an attractive addition to wearable electronics, but high manufacturing costs, fatigue and long-term stability have made traditional solar panel materials impractical for many applications. Emerging perovskite solar cell (PSC) technology offers a solution to the cost issue – $31.7/m2 for PSCs versus $52.9/m2 for CIGS and CdTe cells – but fragility and fast aging present persistent barriers for their application to wearable electronics. We expect our new flexible perovskite solar cells not only to be inexpensive but also durable, stable, and efficient.

Technology Description

By using thermally-oxidized titanium foil as a substrate, this new PSC is flexible and resilient, maintaining its original efficiency after bending 1,000 times. Other methods of flexible PSC creation result in significant breakdown during this same test. Another novel facet of our design is that the transparent electrode top layer shields the oxidized titanium layer from UV light, humidity, and oxygen, ensuring resilience not only against bending, but also against the elements, which is a known limitation of current PSC technology. What’s more, our flexible PSC reaches a power conversion efficiency of 14.9 percent, which is competitive with traditional polycrystalline thin film panels. With increased fatigue resistance and efficiency, our flexible PSC device solves the major limitations plaguing current solar cell technology and makes solar-powered wearable electronics a realistic possibility.

Advantages

  • Maintains efficiency after bending 1,000 times
  • Power conversion efficiency competitive with traditional solar cells
  • Inexpensive to manufacture
  • Enhanced durability under repeated light, humidity, and oxygen exposure
  • Lightweight and portable

Applications

  • Wearable electronics (e.g., health monitors, e-textiles, mobile devices, etc.)
  • Flexible displays
  • Powering electric and hybrid cars
  • Providing solar power to residential and commercial buildings, especially on surfaces that aren’t conducive to traditional panels

Stage of Development

Prototype

IP Status

Provisional patent application filed

Innovator

Jun-Kun Lee, PhD