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Metal oxide barrier layers for terrestrial and space perovskite photovoltaics


Perovskite photovoltaics are attractive for both terrestrial and space applications. Although terrestrial conditions require durability against stressors such as moisture and partial shading, space poses different challenges: radiation, atomic oxygen, vacuum and high-temperature operation. Here we demonstrate a silicon oxide layer that hardens perovskite photovoltaics to critical space stressors. A 1-μm-thick silicon oxide layer evaporated atop the device contacts blocks 0.05 MeV protons at fluences of 1015 cm−2 without a loss in power conversion efficiency, which results in a device lifetime increase in low Earth orbit by ×20 and in highly elliptical orbit by ×30. Silicon-oxide-protected Cs0.05(MA0.17FA0.83)0.95Pb(I0.83Br0.17)3) (MA, methylammonium; FA, formamidinium cation) and CsPbI2Br cells survive submergence in water and N,N-dimethylformamide. Furthermore, moisture tolerance of Sn-Pb and CsPbI2Br devices is boosted. Devices are also found to retain power conversion efficiencies on exposure to alpha irradiation and atomic oxygen. This barrier technology is a step towards lightweight packaging designs for both space and terrestrial applications.

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Fig. 1: SiOx as a radiation barrier.
Fig. 2: SiOx as an atomic oxygen barrier.
Fig. 3: SiOx as water barrier.
Fig. 4: SiOx as a moisture barrier for sensitive chemistries.

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All of the data generated or analysed during this study are included in the published article and its Supplementary Information files. Source data are provided with this paper.


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This work was authored by NREL operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, for the US Department of Energy (DOE) under contract no. DE-AC36-08GO28308. NREL acknowledges support from the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund (OECIF) of the US Department of Defense (DOD). B.R. acknowledges partial support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant no. HBCU-EiR-2101181. The work at the University of Oklahoma was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under agreement no. 80NSSC19M0140 issued through NASA Oklahoma EPSCoR. K.T.V. acknowledges the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Early Career Initiative Program for support of this work. We thank R. Darling of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Arlington for guidance and support. The views expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the views of the DOE or the US Government.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



A.R.K. and J.M.L. conceived and supervised this work and wrote the manuscript. A.R.K. fabricated the solar cells, designed and carried out the stressing experiments and performed device characterization. D.P.O. supported the SiOx deposition and ambient characterization of Sn–Pb perovskite solar cells. K.T.V. supported the DC 93-500 encapsulation. K.N.H. and B.S. carried out α-irradiation at NREL. W.N. deposited the electrically insulating ITO barrier on the devices. J.T. and K.Z. fabricated the Sn–Pb perovskite solar cells for the study. T.A.B. and B.R. carried out proton and α-irradiation at the University of North Texas with suggestions and insight from I.R.S. B.R. supported the SRIM/TRIM simulations. R.C.B. sputtered ITO electrodes on quartz substrates for the solar cell fabrication. All the authors contributed to the discussion and editing of the paper.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Ahmad R. Kirmani or Joseph M. Luther.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

A.R.K., D.P.O. and J.M.L. are inventors on a pending provisional patent (US patent 63/301,295 by Alliance for Sustainable Energy) related to protective barriers for space-based perovskite PVs as discussed in this manuscript. All the other authors declare no competing interests.

Peer review

Peer review information

Nature Energy thanks Romain Cariou, Felix Lang and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–19, Tables 1–4 and Note 1.

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Video 1

Bare CsPbI2Br device in deionized water.

Supplementary Video 2

SiO-capped CsPbI2Br device in deionized water.

Supplementary Video 3

PIN triple-cation devices in DMF_bare and SiO.

Supplementary Video 4

SiO-capped CsPbI2Br device in DMF.

Supplementary Video 5

SiO-capped CsPbI2Br device in DMF and deionized water.

Supplementary Data 1

Device data showing effect of DC 93-500 on PCEs.

Supplementary Data 2

Device data showing effect of 1 um SiO on PCEs.

Supplementary Data 3

Device data showing effect of 1 MeV protons on PCEs.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

Remaining factor data of NIP cells for Fig. 1e and remaining factor data of PIN cells for Fig. 1g.

Source Data Fig. 2

Normalized PCE data for atomic oxygen exposed devices.

Source Data Fig. 4

Shelf-life data for CsPbI2Br cells.

Source Data Table 1

Device data for Table 1.

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Kirmani, A.R., Ostrowski, D.P., VanSant, K.T. et al. Metal oxide barrier layers for terrestrial and space perovskite photovoltaics. Nat Energy 8, 191–202 (2023).

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