An Old Rock Could Lead to Next-Generation Solar Cells
From:E&E News Date:2017-12-08


 摘要:自1839年首次被发现以来,钙钛矿及具有钙钛矿晶体结构的各类材料已在多种领域获得广泛应用,“钙钛矿”这个名词也从最初对一种特定材料的描述演变成了对一类具有相同晶体结构材料的统称。2009年日本科学家Miyasaka教授第一次将钙钛矿材料用在了光伏技术上。经过短短几年的发展,如今,钙钛矿太阳能电池技术在实验室与工业化领域都获得了突飞猛进的进步,钙钛矿光伏也一跃成为当前最炙手可热的技术之一。



图片是1910年纽约州罗切斯特市的伊斯曼柯达工厂。柯达的一部分旧建筑正在被能源材料公司用来研发钙钛矿技术。

 

After a 170-year delay, the discovery of a strange, metallic-looking rock found in the Ural Mountains in Russia in 1839 has ignited a global technology race for a cheaper, more efficient solar cell. It could seriously disrupt the world's solar market, currently dominated by China.

1839年在俄罗斯乌拉尔山脉发现了一种奇特金属外观的岩石,在170年后的今天引发了一场全球技术竞赛----该竞赛在争夺一种更便宜,更高效的太阳能电池。这可能会严重扰乱目前由中国主宰的世界光伏市场。


The features of the rock led to the understanding that there was not a particular mineral involved, but a class of minerals that share a common crystalline structure of cubes and diamondlike shapes. The structure was named for Lev Perovski, a Russian mineral expert who first studied it. He died in 1856. Later, researchers found that mineral deposits containing perovskite structures were cheap and abundant throughout the world.

这种岩石的特征让大家认识到这不是某种特定的矿物,而是一类具有共同立方体和菱形形状的晶体结构。这个结构是以俄罗斯矿业专家Lev Perovski的名字命名的。他是第一个研究钙钛矿的人,于1856年去世。后来研究人员发现含有钙钛矿结构的矿床在世界各地都很便宜而且丰富。


But scientists weren't sure what to do with them until 2009, when a Japanese researcher found that perovskite could absorb sunlight and turn it into electricity. It was remarkably similar to prepared silicon cells. Only perovskite cells selected stronger photons of sunlight and promised to be much cheaper to prepare than silicon cells, which require 14 steps to manufacture, including preparations requiring the use of high heat, expensive automation and clean rooms.

此后相当长的时期里,科学家都不知道这类物质能派上什么用场。直到2009年,一个日本研究人员发现钙钛矿可以吸收阳光并转化为电能。它与制备的硅电池非常相似。不过钙钛矿电池选择了太阳光谱中更强的光子,并且制备起来比硅电池要便宜得多----硅电池需要14个步骤来制造,包括需要使用高热量,昂贵的自动化和洁净室。


The potentially cheaper cost of materials and manufacturing has led to a first wave of commercial perovskite ventures, including at least two that are forming in the United States. They are aiming for products that could challenge China's dominance of the global solar market and help spread manufacturing around the world.

由于原材料和制造成本可能更低,这催生了第一波商业钙钛矿企业,其中至少有两家已在美国运营。他们开发中的产品可能挑战中国在全球太阳能市场的主导地位,并帮助其公司在世界各地拓展其制造业。


“It's amazing how fast this has come along,” said Matthew Beard, a chemist and senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., one of at least 20 research centers and universities around the world that are working with perovskite. He said that while experimenters are still wrestling with a stability problem in perovskite solar cells that, so far, has given them a shorter life span than silicon-based solar cells, there are ways to overcome that. Beard and other NREL researchers think the new crystalline materials could be the basis for a more competitive U.S. industry and the jobs that come with it.

位于美国科罗拉多州博尔德的国家可再生能源实验室(National Renewable Energy Laboratory)的化学家兼资深科学家马修·比尔德(Matthew Beard)说,“这个速度太快了,真令人吃惊。”全球至少有20个研究中心和大学正在研究钙钛矿。他说,实验者们仍然在与钙钛矿太阳能电池的稳定性问题搏斗,迄今为止,尽管这些太阳能电池的寿命比硅基太阳能电池的使用寿命短,但是有办法来克服这一点。比尔德和其他NREL研究人员认为,这种新的晶体材料可能会让美国的工业更具竞争力,并创造更多的工作岗位。


Currently, the solar industry in the U.S. — which invented solar-powered photovoltaic (PV) electricity — generates 73,000 American jobs, according to NREL, and its hiring rate is growing 17 times faster than the U.S. economy.

据美国国家可再生能源实验室(NREL)的数据,目前发明了光伏发电技术的美国太阳能产业给美国人创造了73,000个就业机会,该雇佣率比美国经济增长快了17倍。


But China, after a six-year financial sprint to provide lavish government subsidies to its solar market and its industries, remains way out in front. Its silicon-based solar products have become cheap and reliable enough to control 70 percent of the world's trade in solar modules. Meanwhile, the United States produces about 1 percent, according to a new study by Stanford University (Climatewire, March 22.2017).

但中国经过六年的努力,用对太阳能市场及其行业提供大笔补贴的方法,依然走在前面。其硅基太阳能产品已经变得便宜可靠,足以控制全球70%的光伏组件贸易。与此同时,根据斯坦福大学的一项新研究,美国的产量仅为1%


The study also noted that the perovskite solar cell “has captured enormous interest among solar researchers over the past four years,” and that its efficiency in making electricity from the energy in sunlight — based on laboratory experiments — had soared from 15 percent to over 22 percent in just three years, reaching a level that is competitive with modules made by China.

该研究还指出,钙钛矿太阳能电池“在过去四年中已经引起了太阳能研究人员的极大兴趣”。基于实验室数据,将太阳能中的能量转换为电能的转换效率已经在短短的三年内从15%猛增到22%,达到了能够与中国制造的光伏组件竞争的水平。


In an interview with E&E News, NREL's Beard said one “critical factor” in this looming market shake-up “is the potential to be cheaper than silicon.” Another, he noted, was that chemists, like himself, see many potential ways to tune perovskite cells to higher levels of efficiency.

NERL的比尔德在接受E&E新闻采访时表示,在这种即将到来的市场变化中,一个“关键因素”是可能比硅更便宜。另外,他指出,化学家和他一样,看到了许多潜在的方法可以调整钙钛矿电池到更高的效率。


A third emerging factor, being developed by researchers from Stanford University and elsewhere, is the use of perovskite cells to work in “tandem” with commercial silicon cells, mating them together to quickly raise their efficiency.

斯坦福大学和其他地方的研究人员正在研究的第三个关键因素是将钙钛矿电池与商业硅电池“串联”起来工作,将它们结合在一起以快速提高效率。


the machinery will speed up the process of making the basic perovskite material for turning sunlight into electricity. It would then be given a protective covering of glass and encapsulated to protect against water and other substances.

这种机器将加速用来将阳光转化为电能的基本钙钛矿材料的生产过程。然后,会给钙钛矿材料安置一个玻璃保护层并进行封装,以防止水和其他物质的侵蚀。 (未完待续)


来源:《E&E News2017.04.2

By John Fialka