ARCI Develops Lead-Free Perovskite Photodetector

Highlights :

  • Researchers have innovated an organic-inorganic halide perovskite photodetector utilizing magnesium as a partial substitute for lead.
  • ACRI believes that this will further safety in solar energy generation.
ARCI Develops Lead-Free Perovskite Photodetector How China Became The Global Renewable Leader?

Researchers at the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI) in Hyderabad, India, have innovated an organic-inorganic halide perovskite photodetector utilizing magnesium as a partial substitute for lead. The ARCI breakthrough represents a major stride in enhancing the safety of solar energy generation.

Lead is a heavy metal that has highly adverse impact on the environment and human health; its use in solar industry dents the image of the industry of being ‘renewable.’

Affiliated with the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the ARCI scientists targeted the environmental and health risks associated with lead in optoelectronic devices. Their approach involved integrating magnesium into the perovskite structure, resulting in a non-toxic alternative suitable for solar applications.

The accomplishment of creating a lead-free perovskite photodetector by ARCI not only tackles significant environmental issues but also presents a promising substitute for current materials in the solar industry. This development aligns with the global transition towards renewable energy sources and sustainable technologies.

Dark Side of Solar Panels

The heightened demand for lead-based perovskite solar cells stems from their potential to facilitate cost-effective renewable electricity generation. However, a critical concern arises when these solar panels, particularly those containing lead, sustain damage, as this may result in the leakage of lead into the surrounding environment, thereby contaminating the air, soil, and groundwater.

In terms of human health, experts warn that exposure to lead can lead to severe damage to the brain and central nervous system, potentially causing coma, convulsions, and even death. The World Health Organization underscores the long-term consequences for children surviving severe lead poisoning, emphasizing the risk of permanent intellectual disability and behavioral disorders.

Adding to the complexity of the situation is the nascent state of the recycling industry within the solar power sector. Efficient scientific resource extraction from solar panel waste remains a significant challenge, particularly in countries like India where the recycling infrastructure has yet to fully take off.

Moving Towards Greater Sustainability

When examining the complete life cycle of the photovoltaic (PV) industry, it becomes evident that PV power generation is not entirely free of environmental impact. Across all stages, there is substantial resource consumption and significant emissions of pollutants. However, the scientific community, largely supported by solar industry conglomerates, is actively working to develop solutions that will help make the solar industry truly green.

Consider the case of Perovskites for instance. They represent a family of materials distinguished by their crystalline structure. These materials have demonstrated remarkable potential in recent years as a more cost-effective and equally efficient alternative to silicon in solar cells and detectors. A recent study conducted by the University of Rochester indicated that perovskites may surpass ‘silicon’ – again a pollutant – in terms of efficiency.

In this study, researchers employed an innovative physics-based approach. By utilizing a substrate consisting of either a layer of metal or alternating layers of metal and dielectric material instead of glass, they achieved a 250 percent increase in the light conversion efficiency of perovskites. Consequently, the use of glass—a resource associated with its own environmental impact—could be minimized or even eliminated.

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