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Glove Box Perovskite Solar Cell Case Study

The highest performing perovskite solar cells are made in glove boxes. As some components within the perovskite solution can be vulnerable to moisture and oxygen in the atmosphere, working in an inert environment will produce the highest efficiency of devices. This is especially true at raised temperatures. You can make good perovskite solar cells in ambient conditions, but you should use specially designed compositions which are compatible with air processing (such as the I101 perovskite ink). 

For this case study, we tested the performance of triple-caption perovskite solar cells made in three different processing conditions:

  1. A humidity-controlled lab with ambient conditions in a clean room
  2. In the low cost Ossila Glove Box
  3. In a 0.1 ppm inert atmosphere glove box

Some perovskite materials are more sensitive to air than others and triple-cation perovskites (CsFAMAPb(IxBr1-x)3) are a particularly robust. As expected, all three environments gave us usable perovskite solar cell devices, but with varying power conversion efficiencies (PCEs). Interestingly, there was no significant difference between the two different glove boxes, despite the large difference in price.

Ossila Glove Box PCE comparison
Device data of power conversion efficiencies for perovskite solar cells made in the Ossila Glove Box, 0.1 ppm glove box and in air.

Air-Processed Perovskite Solar Cells vs. Nitrogen Processed PSCs

To compare the quality and performance of air-processed perovskite solar cells with those made in either brand of glove box, we made several films and devices in air. To give us as much control as possible without using a glove box, we made these devices in a clean room within a humidity-controlled lab. These films therefore represent a best-case scenario for perovskites processed in ambient conditions.

Making devices in air rather than in an inert atmosphere glove box reduced both average and champion power conversion efficiency (PCE) by nearly 2%, and lead to a reduced consistency in device all metrics. This is unsurprising. To make the highest efficiency perovskite solar cells using these inks, you need to maintain low levels of humidity and O2. This is very difficult to do in ambient conditions.

Ossila Glove Box vs. Higher Price Glove Box

The Ossila Glove Box can keep oxygen levels in the main chamber below 0.5% and water levels as low as 10 ppm, while a market leading (much more expensive) glove box can create inert atmospheres O2 and H2O levels of less than 0.1 ppm. The efficiency of the perovskite solar cell devices and films that we made in both show us what this means in the real-world. 

There is no significant difference between the glove box devices, other than their price. Devices made in the Ossila Glove Box had a slightly lower VOC, but an improved JSC compared to those made in the 0.1 ppm glove box. The devices made in the Ossila Glove Box had a champion device efficiency of 19.2%, compared to 19.7% champion for the 0.1 ppm glove box devices.

High performance perovskite solar cells can be fabricated in a glove box without incredibly low levels of O2 and H2O. Levels of >0.5% relative humidity, achievable with the Ossila Glove Box, are suitable when making PSC devices.

We also examined the films prepared in each of the three different environments with a scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The perovskite films made in both glove boxes were extremely similar, with the characteristic uniform grains we except from perovskites films. In contrast, those prepared in air had a large number of pinholes and gaps in the film. This will clearly reduce the charge transfer properties of the perovskite layer, hindering device performance.

SEM data for films prepared in the Ossila Glove Box, competing glove box, and air
SEM data showing films prepared in the Ossila Glove Box, a glove box maintaining 0.1 ppm O2 and H2O levels, and in air (scale bar shows 1µm).

The SEM results correlate with the X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and absorption data. The characteristic peaks associated with the perovskite crystal structure are strong for films deposited in both glove boxes. This suggests that there is very little difference in perovskite crystal orientation when the films are made in either glove box. As expected, these characteristic peaks are all strikingly reduced for the films made in air. In this case, the perovskite material is much less ordered.

We also normalised the absorption profiles for each of the three atmospheric conditions. The films in both glove boxes are almost identical, while the films deposited in air have much lower absorption in the visible region and a tail at higher wavelengths. This indicates high levels of scattering, which is caused by rough and uneven films.

Ossila Glove Box XRD data and absorption profile comparison
XRD data and absorption profiles of Triple Cation films made in the Ossila Glove Box, 0.1 ppm glove box and coated with a spin coater in air.


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Contributing Authors

  • Mary O'Kane
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