Bundling the best properties: new material concept for solar cells

In the “KeraSolar” project of the Materials Science Center for Energy Systems (MZE) at KIT, new material concepts for solar cells are to be researched. (Photo: Markus Breig, KIT)

In the “KeraSolar” project of the Materials Science Center for Energy Systems (MZE) at KIT, new material concepts for solar cells are to be researched. (Photo: Markus Breig, KIT)

Carl Zeiss Foundation funds new research project of KIT with 4.5 million euros

Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) want to develop a fundamentally new solar cell concept in the project "Novel Liquid-Applied Ceramic Solar Cells" (KeraSolar). They combine research on photovoltaics with ceramic functional materials in order to bundle the advantages of different solar cell technologies: the printability of organic and long-term stability of crystalline solar cells and the ferroelectricity of perovskites.

One of the most important pillars of future CO 2 -neutral energy supply is solar energy. Solar cells can collect them and convert them into usable electrical energy. In the next six years, KIT researchers will be working on a completely new material concept for solar cells in the “Novel Liquid-Applied Ceramic Solar Cells” (KeraSolar) project funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation with 4.5 million euros.

The new functional materials are made from ceramic materials that promise extremely good robustness and long-term durability. However, modern solar cells must have far more properties: they must be freely formable and integrable in order to transform virtually any surface into solar power plants. Your production must use as little energy as possible, the manufacturing processes should do without toxic substances and the necessary raw materials should be sufficiently available. This is where the advantages of ceramic functional materials come into play: They offer almost endless possibilities to combine elements and connections with one another and thus to achieve tailor-made material properties. This opens up a large new field of research for the project team.

The project is located at the Materials Science Center for Energy Systems (MZE) at KIT, whose program is based on the major research topics related to energy conversion and storage. "We are delighted that the MZE has quickly developed into a showcase project for modern, multidisciplinary materials research, whose achievements are recognized and sustainably supported by KeraSolar," says Professor Michael J. Hoffmann, one of the initiators of the MZE. "We are very happy about the six-year funding from the Carl Zeiss Foundation."

About half of the 16 working groups from different scientific disciplines located at the MZE will participate in the project and contribute their expertise in electrical engineering, materials science, physics and chemistry. They combine experimental approaches with theoretical considerations. "Thanks to scientists from completely different disciplines and backgrounds, we are able to set up such a challenging research project," said Dr. Alexander Colsmann. Together with Michael J. Hoffmann, he coordinates the new project. A new experimental platform specially set up for the “KeraSolar” project team is intended to help shape KIT solar cell research in the long term.

About the Carl Zeiss Foundation

The Carl Zeiss Foundation has set itself the goal of creating scope for scientific breakthroughs. As a partner of excellent science, it supports both basic research and application-oriented research and teaching in the MINT departments (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology). Founded in 1889 by physicist and mathematician Ernst Abbe, the Carl Zeiss Foundation is the oldest private science foundation in Germany. It is the sole owner of Carl Zeiss AG and SCHOTT AG. Your projects are financed from the dividend payments of the two foundation companies.

KIT is one of the biggest research and education institutions worldwide and has the potential of reaching a top position in selected research areas on an international level. The objective is to turn KIT into an institution of top research, excellent scientific education, and a prominent location ...

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