Surfactant-controlled ink drying enables high-speed deposition of perovskite films for efficient photovoltaic modules



Novel photovoltaic technologies such as perovskites hold the promise of a reduced levelized cost of electricity, but the low-cost potential depends on the ability to scale-up solution-based deposition. So far, complex fluid dynamics have limited the solution deposition of uniform pinhole-free organic–inorganic perovskite thin films over large areas. Here, we show that very small amounts (tens of parts per million) of surfactants (for example, l-α-Phosphatidylcholine) dramatically alter the fluid drying dynamics and increase the adhesion of the perovskite ink to the underlying non-wetting charge transport layer. The additives enable blading of smooth perovskite films at a coating rate of 180 m h–1 with root-mean-square roughness of 14.5 nm over 1 cm. The surfactants also passivate charge traps, resulting in efficiencies over 20% for small-area solar cells. Fast blading in air of perovskite films results in stabilized module efficiencies of 15.3% and 14.6% measured at aperture areas of 33.0 cm2 and 57.2 cm2, respectively.

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Fig. 1: Blade-coating of perovskite films.
Fig. 2: Solution flow dynamics and its suppression by surfactants.
Fig. 3: Morphological characterization of blade-coated perovskite films with surfactants.
Fig. 4: Wetting improvement of perovskite ink onto hydrophobic substrates by surfactants.
Fig. 5: Characterization of surfactant-assisted blade-coated PSC and modules.


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We thank the financial support from Office of Naval Research under award N00014-15-1-2713 and N00014-17-1-2619, and UNC Research Opportunities Initiative. This work was performed in part at the Chapel Hill Analytical and Nanofabrication Laboratory, CHANL, a member of the North Carolina Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network, RTNN, which is supported by the National Science Foundation, grant ECCS-1542015, as part of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure, NNCI. We thank Z. Yu and Z. Holman at Arizona State University for their independent measurements of the fabricated perovskite solar modules.

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J.H. and Y.D. conceived the idea and designed the experiments. Y.D. fabricated the perovskite thin films and devices and conducted the characterization. Y.B. and X.Z. synthesized and prepared the raw chemicals for perovskite thin film deposition. Y.D. and Q.W. conducted the perovskite solution droplet experiment. J.Z. helped with the laser ablation process for module fabrication. J.H. and Y.D. wrote the paper, and all authors reviewed the paper.

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Correspondence to Jinsong Huang.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Tables 1–2, Supplementary Figures 1–12

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Supplementary Video 1

Drying of the perovskite solution without surfactant observed by microscopy

Supplementary Video 2

Drying of the perovskite solution with LP surfactant observed by microscopy

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Deng, Y., Zheng, X., Bai, Y. et al. Surfactant-controlled ink drying enables high-speed deposition of perovskite films for efficient photovoltaic modules. Nat Energy 3, 560–566 (2018).

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