The Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2020 Perovskite Funding Program supports research and development (R&D) to advance perovskite photovoltaic (PV) devices, manufacturing, and performance validation. Perovskite PV technologies have shown potential for high efficiency and low production costs. The U.S. Department of Energy announced the program on August 13, 2020, and on March 25, 2021, DOE selected 22 projects to receive $40 million.

Approach

These projects will work to increase access to reliable electricity for all Americans by improving understanding of perovskite stability to enable domestic production of high-efficiency perovskite devices. This program will also establish a center for researchers, bankability experts, and performance engineers to develop test protocols that enable confidence in the long-duration field performance of perovskite-based PV technologies.

The projects fall under three topic areas:

  • Device R&D (Efficiency and Stability): These projects will advance perovskite efficiency and stability at the cell or mini-module scale, beyond the current state of the art.
  • Manufacturing R&D: These projects will address challenges in manufacturing perovskite modules at relevant scale and throughput.
  • Validation and Bankability Center: This neutral, independent validation center will be used to verify perovskite device performance, address acceptance and bankability challenges so these technologies can be competitive in the marketplace, and investigate perovskites’ environmental impact.

Objectives

These projects will contribute to the effort to rapidly increase affordable solar deployment, which is essential to achieving the nation’s clean energy goals, managing the climate crisis, and create high-paying U.S. jobs. The validation center will provide objective information and analysis for the investment and finance communities.

Selectees

-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --

Topic Area 1: Device R&D (Efficiency and Stability)

BROWN UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Innovative Interfacial Engineering for Simultaneous Enhancement in Efficiency, Stability, and Reliability in Perovskite Devices  
Location: Providence, RI
DOE Award Amount: $1.5 million
Cost Share: $375,000
Project Summary: This project aims to improve the stability and reliability of metal halide perovskite solar cells by enhancing the mechanical adhesion toughness of the cells’ key interfaces, while enhancing power conversion efficiency. To create stronger bonding, the project team will incorporate self-assembled monolayers into the electron-transport and hole-transport layers. They will also fabricate and optimize cells and mini modules, test their stability, and study and model degradation mechanisms.

GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Project Name: Scalable Charge Transport Layers Based on Electrically Conductive Conjugated Polymers to Achieve High Efficiency and Long-Term Durability in Perovskite Solar Cells  
Location: Atlanta, GA
DOE Award Amount: $800,000 
Cost Share: $200,000
Project Summary: This project will develop electron- and hole-transport layers for formamidinium-methylammonium-based perovskite solar cells that do not need doping, a technique used to change the number of electrons and holes in semiconductors to enhance performance. These layers will be structurally designed to conduct electricity, inhibit crystallization, and prevent moisture degradation in cells. Properly stacked, the layers could potentially achieve power conversion efficiencies of 20% to 24%. The polymers could be scaled up for large-scale production because they have relatively simple structures and require few steps to create. The project team will partner with Adesis to explore the cost analysis and scale-up.

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

Project Name: Next-Generation Perovskite Photovoltaics: Improving, Stabilizing, and Lead-Sealing of Record-Setting Laboratory Solar Cells Toward Commercialization  
Location: Cambridge, MA
DOE Award Amount: $1.4 million 
Cost Share: $350,000
Project Summary: To address the stability, efficiency, and lead-toxicity challenges of perovskite solar cells, this project team will develop a two-dimensional perovskite carrier transport layer, creating a simpler device structure. The team will also develop high-throughput optical measurements and real-time device simulations, as well as an encapsulation layer using dual-pronged, lead-sealing barrier films to prevent oxygen and moisture from entering and ultraviolet light exposure for long-term stability and lead recycling.

NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LABORATORY

Project Name: From Devices to Atoms: Assessing Perovskite Device Stability and Metastability by Spatially Resolved In-Situ and Targeted Ex-Situ Characterization  
Location: Golden, CO
DOE Award Amount: $1.2 million
Cost Share: $300,000
Project Summary: This project will enable rapid characterization of mechanisms that cause irreversible degradation versus reversible metastability in perovskites, to mitigate reliability concerns and identify pathways to long operational lifetimes in high-performing devices. To accomplish this, the project team will develop electro-optical imaging methods to measure the film and crystal characteristics in the devices, for spatially resolved in-situ characterization and ex-situ validation from full device to atomic spatial scales. They will then link the results with a defect library to assess the likely behavior of new devices based on the behavior of old ones. If successful, this project will provide tools to industry partners to accelerate progress in achieving high stability and long-lifetime devices, validated across multiple perovskite-based technologies.

PURDUE UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Multi-Functional Semiconducting Ligand Design for Intrinsically Stable and Scalable Perovskite Solar Cells 
Location: West Lafayette, IN
DOE Award Amount: $1.5 million 
Cost Share: $375,000
Project Summary: This project will demonstrate semiconducting ligands—molecules attached to a central metallic element—that can spontaneously organize within the active layer of a perovskite solar cell to passivate defects and restrict halide diffusion, resulting in improved moisture and oxygen tolerance, reduced phase segregation, and increased thermal stability. The project team will develop a suite of multi-functional semiconducting ligands that can improve perovskite stability while preserving and even enhancing its electronic properties. The team aims to achieve cell efficiency higher than 25%, operational stability of more than five years (under accelerated tests), and 18% mini-module efficiency.

SLAC NATIONAL ACCELERATOR LABORATORY

Project Name: Total Characterization of Perovskite Films for Enhanced Stability 
Location: Menlo Park, CA
DOE Award Amount: $1.5 million 
Cost Share: $375,000
Project Summary: This project aims to characterize and understand the material properties that affect the efficiency and stability of metal halide perovskite (MHP) photovoltaic devices. The team will develop advanced characterization tools to determine what governs device stability and manufacturing reliability, such as X-ray technology to see how much of the films are crystalline and how much are amorphous, or glassy. The team will automate the tools so they work when manufacturing is scaled up, aiming to ultimately increase module lifetime and manufacturing reliability. They will leverage insights into MHP synthesis and performance from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Hunt Perovskite Technologies.

STANFORD UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Open-Air Manufacturing of Efficient Large-Area Perovskite Solar Cells to Meet Stability and Cost Targets
Location: Stanford, CA
DOE Award Amount: $1.5 million 
Cost Share: $370,000
Project Summary: This project will develop fully open-air-processed perovskite cells with scalable manufacturing that eliminates the remaining vacuum-based processing and improves device stability. The team will complement existing perovskite cells with a stable spray-coated nickel-oxide hole-transport layer processed with patented rapid-spray plasma. They will refer to current demonstrations of perovskite module encapsulation and moisture-barrier technology to produce commercially competitive, stable perovskite solar modules that perform at 80% of their original output after 20 years.

SWIFT SOLAR

Project Name: Printed Interconnects with Integrated Bypass Diodes for Perovskite Modules 
Location: Golden, CO
DOE Award Amount: $500,000
Cost Share: $125,000
Project Summary: While much of the research on perovskite stability has focused on cell-level stability, this team will study module-level components to ensure their long-term operational stability. Two critical components for operational stability are cell interconnects, through which pathways for degradation may open, and bypass diodes, which protect solar modules from reverse-bypass hot-spot degradation. This project will integrate bypass diodes into monolithic interconnects via inkjet or aerosol printing for scalable and rapid fabrication of perovskite modules that can last longer in the field.

UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

Project Name: Restricted Area Printing by Ink Drawing (RAPID) Printing of Highly Efficient and Stable Perovskite Films for Solar Cell Applications  
Location: Tucson, AZ
DOE Award Amount: $700,000 
Cost Share: $175,000
Project Summary: This project will aim to improve the performance and stability of perovskite photovoltaic technologies with a new printing process called RAPID and a tool suite for chemical, thermomechanical, electronic, and structural characterization that will provide guidelines for design. RAPID will control perovskite grain growth by inhibiting the initial process of crystal formation; increase thermomechanical stability via reduced internal stresses; and increase chemical stability via reduced trap states, or defects, in perovskite devices printed at high deposition rates. RAPID confines the precursor ink within a submicron gap at high temperatures; exposed to air, large crystals grow almost instantaneously, controlling composition, crystal, size and coherence—essential parameters in large-scale perovskite solar cell manufacturing.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO

Project Name: Parallel-Processed Multi-Junction Perovskite Solar Cells  
Location: La Jolla, CA
DOE Award Amount: $500,000
Cost Share: $125,000
Project Summary: This project will develop a new low-bandgap perovskite for perovskite-perovskite tandem solar cells. The team will use the university’s epitaxial growth and liftoff method to deliver flexible, single-crystal perovskite thin-film cells resistant to degradation. To integrate the bottom single-crystal perovskite cell with the top cell, the team will use a roll-to-roll compatible lamination process developed at the University of Michigan, targeting a power conversion efficiency above 28%.

UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, BOULDER (1)

Project Name: Accelerated Selection of Optimal Perovskite Alloys for Solar PV Using a Combined Quantum and Machine Learning Hierarchical Approach 
Location: Boulder, CO
DOE Award Amount: $1.2 million 
Cost Share: $300,000
Project Summary: The project will seek out high-performance perovskite alloys through quantum mechanics and machine learning, and analyze the stabilities of candidate alloys to guide the development of durable solar cell materials. Successful candidates will be subjected to validation experiments at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Resulting alloys will provide direction and motivation for studies including specific material synthetic targets, device optimization, and device stability protocols. A key advantage of this effort is the feedback and guidance provided by the Industry Collaborative Work Group, established to coordinate academic and national lab research with industry needs. This work will provide a road map for researchers to focus efforts on improving and fine-tuning promising device material compositions.

UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, BOULDER (2)

Project Name: Studying Perovskite Solar Cells in Reverse Bias to Accelerate and Investigate Degradation Due to Electrochemistry and Halogen Migration
Location: Boulder, CO
DOE Award Amount: $950,000 
Cost Share: $250,000
Project Summary: Metal halide perovskite solar cells degrade when holes oxidize iodine and it migrates out of the cells. This project team has shown that this process happens faster when solar cells operate in reverse bias, which occurs when they are shaded and other cells in the module are illuminated. This project proposes methods for making impermeable contacts so that iodine stays in the perovskite film. The team will also test its hypothesis that the nature of degradation in reverse bias is similar to degradation under normal operating conditions, to potentially introduce ways to test the stability of perovskite solar cells and help forecast their long-term stability in the field.

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

Project Name: Interface Engineering using Vapor Transport Deposited (VTD) Perovskite Films for Solar Cells  
Location: Minneapolis, MN
DOE Award Amount: $1 million
Cost Share: $250,000
Project Summary: This project will improve VTD metal-halide perovskite thin-film deposition by replacing conventional high-vacuum methods with a scalable, carrier-gas-based VTD alternative. VTD is capable of high deposition rates and offers a process suitable for film and interface engineering. These attributes will help the project team realize vapor-deposited solar cells with a power conversion efficiency of at least 22% and that perform at 80% of their value after 5,000 hours of testing. The team will investigate and apply passivation approaches developed for perovskite solution-processing to VTD methodologies.

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

Project Name: Stabilizing Formamidinium (FA)-cesium (Cs) Mixed Cation Perovskites  
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
DOE Award Amount: $1.25 million
Cost Share: $300,000
Project Summary: This project team of university, national laboratory, and industry scientists will develop efficient and stable formamidinium (FA)-cesium (Cs) perovskite cells and modules. Preliminary studies show that FACs perovskites have much better thermal, moisture, and photo stability than methylammonium-containing perovskites and much higher efficiency than all-inorganic perovskites. The project will aim to identify the main degradation pathways and come up with strategies to stabilize FACs perovskites, including suppression of ion migration, strain engineering, and film-surface modification. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Hunt Perovskite Technologies will help with material and device characterization and stability testing.

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS

Project Name: High-speed Solution Printing and Photonic Curing of Transparent Electrodes on Plastics  
Location: Richland, TX
DOE Award Amount: $800,000
Cost Share: $225,000
Project Summary: This project will use innovative materials design and a novel annealing method—photonic curing—to facilitate high-throughput, low-cost manufacturing of transparent electrodes on plastic substrates enabling cost-competitive perovskite solar cells with 18% power conversion efficiency. The goal is to produce a high-performance transparent conducting layer  on polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a common plastic used to make items like water bottles. The project team will perform lab-scale validation, sheet-scale upscaling, and roll-to-roll demonstration of manufacturability.

WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY

Project Name: Hydrophobic Carbon Nanosheets as Passivation Layer for Perovskite Solar Cell with High Efficiency and Stability 
Location: Wichita, KS
DOE Award Amount: $500,000 
Cost Share: $125,000
Project Summary: This project will develop a stable, low-cost perovskite solar cell with water-repellent, three-dimensional carbon nanosheets as electrode materials. The aim is to demonstrate that the nanosheets can improve the cells’ lifetime stability in humid operating conditions while maintaining 20% conversion efficiency. The project team will explore factors that affect cell lifetime, investigate strategies to synthesize highly efficient electrode materials; and develop mini modules. Then the team will make a prototype of a perovskite solar cell that can achieve a power conversion efficiency greater than 20% and high stability over 1,000 hours of testing, with a final efficiency greater than 18%.

TOPIC AREA 2: Manufacturing R&D

FAS HOLDINGS GROUP

Project Name: Manufacturing 27%-Efficient Perovskite-Silicon Tandem Photovoltaic Cells Using Slot Die Coating at More Than 5,000 Wafers Per Hour  
Location: Dallas, TX
DOE Award Amount: $2 million
Cost Share: $1 million
Project Summary: This project will develop manufacturing equipment and processes to fabricate 27% efficient two-terminal perovskite-silicon tandem photovoltaic cells at a small cost increase over single-junction silicon cells of less than $15 per square meter. The team will deposit the perovskite layer from solution, using an nTact slot-die coater, on textured silicon heterojunction solar cells. This project will scale up the device area while maintaining 27% device efficiency. Enabled by a linear coating concept, a high-volume slot-die coating system with a combination of parallel and inline processing can process more than 5,000 wafers per hour. This system can be easily configured for larger wafers and would be ready for transitioning silicon photovoltaics into perovskite-silicon tandems.

FIRST SOLAR

Project Name: High-Throughput and -Yield Process Using In-line Metrology for Sheet-to-Sheet Manufacturing of Perovskite Modules (with 3,600 Square-Centimeter Active Area) 
Location: Santa Clara, CA
DOE Award Amount: $2.5 million 
Cost Share: $650,000
Project Summary: This project team will develop a cost-competitive, high-yield, high-throughput process and associated measurement methods to manufacture high-efficiency, stable perovskite modules. The team will combine deep expertise and well-equipped facilities to scale robust film-deposition methods, evaluated with measurement techniques that promote rapid learning cycles. Manufacturing processes will be validated through a combination of full device integration, including packaging, module performance modeling, and loss analysis. A pilot line will verify the process’s feasibility and enable a techno-economic analysis with module-level inputs. At the end, the project will demonstrate a 3,600-square-centimer module with 22% power conversion efficiency.

HUNT PEROVSKITE TECHNOLOGIES

Project Name: Slot-Die Fabrication of Lead-Safe, Robust, and Stable Metal Halide Perovskite Modules 
Location: Dallas, TX
DOE Award Amount: $2.5 million
Cost Share: $2 million
Project Summary: In collaboration with the University of North Carolina (UNC) and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL), Hunt Perovskite Technologies (HPT) will demonstrate high-efficiency, high-durability, lead-safe metal halide perovskite solar modules with efficiency greater than 20% in nameplate capacity fabricated by slot-die coating. This project will use HPT’s perovskite ink technology, UNC’s module design and lead chelation expertise, and the Army ERDC-CERL to demonstrate durability. The team intends to demonstrate perovskite PV module manufacturability, scaling, durability, and chemical safety to precondition commercial feasibility and bankability.

TANDEM PV

Project Name: Manufacturing 1 x 2 Meter Tandem Modules 
Location: Santa Clara, CA
DOE Award Amount: $2 million 
Cost Share: $2 million
Project Summary: This project team will scale perovskite solar cells from small laboratory sizes to large product sizes by developing new materials, processes, and tools. They will design and prototype 1-meter by 2-meter tandem modules and investigate encapsulation and backsheets to enhance module durability in the field. They will perform in-situ and forensic analyses on modules to better understand perovskite materials science and gather data that will instill confidence in investing in new solar manufacturing factories and power plants.

Validation and Bankability Center

SETO awarded $14 million to two national laboratories selected to create the Validation and Bankability Center. Learn how they will work together and form the center.


Learn more about SETO’s perovskite solar cell research and other funding programs in PV and manufacturing and competitiveness.