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Advanced Manufacturing

Inkjet Printing to Scale Perovskite and Silicon Tandem Solar Panels

Company Name: Iris Photovoltaics, Inc.
Program Office: Advanced Manufacturing
Location: Golden, CO
Website: www.irispv.com
Email: Colin Bailie, Co-founder; cdbailie@irispv.com
Award Amount: $250,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): National Renewable Energy Laboratory

CRITICAL NEED

Efficiency is the most important technical driver for reducing the cost of solar electricity. Incumbent silicon photovoltaic (PV) technology is reaching its practical efficiency limit, with most commercially available panels able to convert less than 20 percent of the sun's energy into electricity.  

Iris PV's technology opens the door to much more efficient modules that can translate 25 percent to 30 percent of the energy from sunlight into electricity. The company offers a metal-halide perovskite coating for solar panels, which turns visible light into electricity, but is transparent to infrared light. The silicon layer, which is placed underneath the metal-halide perovskite layer, turns infrared light into electricity. The tandem combination of two materials generates much more power than either material can generate alone, resulting in a far more efficient solar module.

Barriers to adoption — like the barriers to any new technology in the solar energy sector — involve efficiency, cost, scalability, and durability. Typical targets for the industry are 1) high-efficiency, low-cost, simple manufacturing; and 2) field life of greater than 25 years. Working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will allow Iris PV to address the scalability barrier in particular, by using inkjet printing as a method for large-area deposition of the company's metal-halide perovskite technology.  

PROJECT INNOVATION + ADVANTAGES

Today's typical solar panel consists of silicon solar cells bonded to a large pane of glass that protects the cells. Iris PV coats that pane of glass with metal-halide perovskite to create a tandem solar panel that uses two layers to reach up to 30 percent efficiency. Offering this technology as a coating has the advantages of minimizing switching costs for current manufacturers, and offers broad compatibility with all existing silicon solar cell technologies.

But metal-halide perovskite is typically deposited using a spin-coater, which imposes unworkable size limits on the pane of glass. This SBV Pilot will address that limitation by using inkjet printing as a means of high-precision deposition of metal-halide perovskite, which will enable uniformity over large areas.

POTENTIAL IMPACT

Economy

Finding a method for scaling metal-halide perovskite while maintaining high performance is critical for the development of products containing this material. The expertise and equipment available at NREL offers a unique advantage for American small businesses like Iris PV, which aims to reinvigorate the domestic solar industry.

As a result of this SBV Pilot, Iris PV will be able to pave a pathway towards large-scale manufacturing. Combining innovations in efficiency, cost, and durability, Iris PV will accelerate the adoption of solar electricity through high-efficiency solar panels that dramatically reduce the cost of solar installations.  


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