Belgian Research Group Imec: Breakthrough In Perovskite Solar Commercialization

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Another new breakthrough in the field of perovskite solar thin-films has been claimed, with the Belgian research group Imec claiming the achievement of an active area efficiency of 11.9% for its solar module based on the technology.

The aperture (an area of 16 cm2) conversion efficiency for the organometal halide perovskite module was tested as being 11.3%. According to Imec, these are, to date, the best conversion efficiencies for perovskite solar modules out there.

IMEC perovskite solar cells

Interestingly, Imec has claimed that it’s currently aiming for “conversion efficiencies of more than 20% for this type of thin-film solar cells.”

Solar Power World Online provides more details:

These record devices have been fabricated by the conventional lab scale spin coating process. Imec also used a linear coating technique (blade coating) for all the solution based layers, to prove industrially viable fabrication methods. By using this method, the modules achieved a 9% aperture area efficiency. These achievements are important breakthroughs in bringing thin-film solar technology to industrial scalability for applications such as building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

“Imec is steadily improving the conversion efficiencies of its perovskite solar cells and at the same time adjusting the fabrication processes to enable industrial adoption of this promising technology,” stated Tom Aernouts, Research and Development manager for thin-film photovoltaics at Imec. “Leveraging our expertise in organic photovoltaics enables us to make rapid progress in enhancing the conversion efficiencies, ultimately aiming at conversion efficiencies of more than 20% for this type of thin-film solar cells.”

Quite a target. If achieved anytime within the near future, it would certainly shake things up.

Image Credit: Imec

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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11 thoughts on “Belgian Research Group Imec: Breakthrough In Perovskite Solar Commercialization

  • The breakthrough here is in the photo. IMEC have gone from tiny chips in labs to actual cells in packages. You could stick them on your roof. They would not last very long and still cost a lot, but the transition to actual devices has been made.

    IMEC is a Dutch-Belgian joint applied research lab. I have the impression it applies the very successful Fraunhofer model. Companies support the research projects, and in return have access to the resulting shovel-ready IP. This collaboration is much less risky for firms, especially smaller ones, than the winner-take-all American model.

    Another lab that focusses on bridging the crucial gap between laboratory and production line is Martin Green’s one at UNSW in Australia. He’s the inventor of PERC, the incremental technology being introduced everywhere in the pv industry, that has raised efficiencies of poly cells from around 16% to around 19%.

    • Small nitpick: IMEC is a purely Flemish institution, not a Belgian-Dutch partnership.

      It was set up by the Flemish government in close cooperation with the Catholic University of Leuven, with other Flemish universities (mainly Ghent and Hasselt) joining in soon after. While it now has a unit in the Netherlands (and one in Taiwan, India and China too), it still is a Flemish organisation.

      • I stand corrected. I was misled by the Dutch address. The small population base (6.4 million) makes it even more impressive.


  • The stability of the Perovskite compounds seams to be the linchpin now not efficiency. A lot of folk working on it but I would imagine that even after stability is worked out you still have at least 5 years to production. Given that I think we are still 10 years plus to market commercialization unless some massive concerted national government effort is used fast track it. Seeing as how this tech would disrupt hundreds of billions invested in current PV manufacturing infrastructure that’s probable not going to happen, well at least not in a democracy.

    • ” Seeing as how this tech would disrupt hundreds of billions invested in current PV manufacturing infrastructure that’s probable not going to happen”
      So computers didn’t disrupt typewriters and adding machines?

      Cell phones didn’t’ disrupt landline phones?

      Digital didn’t disrupt film?

    • I don’t get this. The perovskite people like IMEC are going out of their way to work out methods of fabrication that won’t disrupt the industry they are hoping to license their IP to. Besides, efforts are being concentrated on tandem cells, of which the bottom layer is a conventional silicon cell.

      At this point the real barrier to production is stability rather than efficiency, for tandem cells at least. Once that is fixed, I would think 2 years to market is more likely than 5.

    • The current manufacturers have to retool every few years anyway. Adding a new tech to complement (not replace) their standard PV lines would not be a big issue. Replacing ICEs with RE tech is a far bigger transformation and that absolutely has to happen or we’re all dead.

  • I live in a small town called Leuven. This town hosts two major companies, inBev and IMEC. The first one you already know, the latter is one you should watch .

    • The problem for huge beer companies is to hide so that drinkers think the stuff comes from a picturesque craft brewer next door.

  • Any improvement and advance is welcomed and needed to both improve the image of PV and the impact it can have on society in general.
    Perovskite has in a very short time frame, relative to silicon, made great advances in the transformation of sunlight to electrical energy, so lets hope the speed of reseach is maintained and we get buyable panels in the next three years….

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