Engineering: Fully Funded M2A ENGD Scholarship: Printed Solar Cells on Steel at Swansea University
Start date: October 2022
Expected interview date: May 2022
Academic supervisor: Professor Trystan Watson
Industrial supervisor: TBD
Sponsoring company: TATA Steel
Tata Steel would like to understand the potential of adding photoactive energy generation materials to a portfolio of steel products to achieve added value. This entails the sequential deposition of functional layers onto pre-existing architectural products culminating in a completed photovoltaic product appropriate for direct integration into the built environment.
The proposed technology of choice is that of the perovskite solar cell. Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) as solid state devices have demonstrated the highest efficiency of all printed solar cell technologies. The current record for a small area PSC now stands at 25 %. These small area devices are often processed with an evaporated gold or silver top electrode which can add significantly to the cost of the devices and render the device stack inappropriate for mounting onto an opaque substrate. This means that generally speaking most perovskite cell architectures are inappropriate for metal or steel based substrates. The world’s first perovskite solar cell made using a metal substrate was developed and published by Swansea University (see Troughton et al, Highly efficient, flexible, indium-free perovskite solar cells employing metallic substrates, J Mat Chem A 2015, 3, 9141). There are two possible approaches for deploying a PV product onto a steel substrate:
1. Direct application of layers sequentially onto the metal itself, whereby the metal substrate acts as an electrode in the device stack. This could be a metal foil material that is then subsequently laminated to a more appropriate architectural steel.
2. Application of an electrically insulating layer to an organically coated steel product that is then further functionalised with an electrically conducting layer and then sequentially applied photoactive materials. The device is then completed with a transparent conducting layer and barrier film.
The successful student will consider these approaches and work with the existing research team to develop a pathway to a printed solar cell demonstrator on steel substrates.