Affordable perovskite solar panels

Polish physicist and business woman Olga Malinkiewicz developed a novel inkjet processing method for perovskites, minerals that can be used in solar cells, that makes it possible to produce solar panels under lower temperatures.

The mineral perovskite was identified in the 1830s, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the Japanese researcher Tsutomu Miyasaka discovered that these minerals can be used to make photovoltaic solar cells.

Perovskite is a very promising material that some believe have the potential to address the world energy poverty. Solar panels made with the mineral are lightweight, efficient, flexible and can be made in various degrees of transparency.

However, the process to make these types of solar panels is complex and requires ultra high temperatures, so only materials that could withstand extreme heat, like glass, could be coated with the perovskite cells.

In 2013, as a PhD student, Malinkiewicz figured out a way to coat flexible foil with perovskites using an evaporation method. Later, she created an inkjet printing procedure that lowers the production costs of perovskite panels enough to make them economically feasible.

Along with two Polish businessmen, Malinkiewicz cofounded the company Saule Technologies, to make the world’s first production line of perovskite solar panels using this technology. The inkjet printing technique allows the design of free form perovskite solar modules. The perovskite cells are resistant to damage caused by bending and folding.

Due to unique features of the perovskite material, the solar cells generate power even when illuminated by weak light sources, like on a cloudy day or even in artificial light.

Photos: Saule Technologies