Queensland project to develop perovskites for next gen solar cells

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A team of researchers from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) will work with Brisbane-based critical minerals company Lava Blue to develop processes for refining resources, including mine waste, into PV precursor materials for use in solar cells.

Project chief investigator Professor Sara Couperthwaite, from QUT’s School of Mechanical, Medical and Process Engineering, said the research will develop sovereign capabilities to supply and produce perovskites from an Australian minerals supply chain.

“The project addresses the growing demand for perovskite minerals and will create new opportunities for Australia to supply a highly value-added materials for solar cell manufacture,” she said.

“As well as opening new export markets for Australian minerals, the project will make it possible for Australian manufacturers of perovskite solar cells to secure supplies of the necessary inputs from Australian suppliers.”

Perovskites are a class of materials that are named after and imitate the unique crystal structure of the naturally occurring mineral perovskite. They are widely used in various applications such as ion conductors for solid-state batteries and catalytic materials for efficient chemical reactions and have emerged as a potential game changer in photovoltaics.

The QUT research team will unite with Brisbane-based Lava Blue to source Australian resources, including mine wastes, to be transformed into precursor materials.

The four-year project, which has been awarded a $588,750 (USD 391,000) grant under the federal government’s Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project scheme, will also seek to demonstrate at scale the production of bespoke precursor materials.

The researchers said they also plan to explore the impacts of impurity on perovskite efficiency and stability in order to develop capacity in building next gen PV perovskite solar cells.

The project is one of 72 initiatives that shared in $43 million in funding as part of the ARC’s Linkage Project scheme latest grant round.

ARC Acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Richard Johnson said the scheme supports projects that initiate or develop national and international long-term strategic research partnerships between researchers and industry and provide a basis for securing commercial and other benefits of research.

“By supporting the development of strategic research partnerships, the ARC encourages the transfer of skills and knowledge fundamental to enhancing Australia’s research capability,” he said.

“There are 170 partner organisations involved with these new projects and an additional $61 million in cash and in-kind support. This will help researchers, industry, and community organisations drive innovation and deliver research outcomes for the benefit of all Australians.”

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