G2V’s Sunbrick Class AAA LED solar simulator has enabled Rayleigh Solar Tech to rapidly progress on the path to commercialization, allowing them to conduct integrated tests of larger samples toward meeting the IEC 61215 requirements and eventually installing them in electric vehicles, buildings, and virtually anywhere solar cells can be installed.
Rayleigh – Thin, Flexible, Lightweight Perovskite Solar Cells Manufacturer
Dr. Sam March was first introduced to the world of perovskite solar technology while earning his PhD at Dalhousie University. In 2016, he teamed up with Dr. Irina Valitova and Dane George, PEng. Together they co-founded Rayleigh Solar Tech in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with the goal of mass-producing perovskite solar cells using roll-to-roll processing and rigid panels.
This approach is uniquely suited to bring added value to perovskite cells which by their nature require far lower temperatures than traditional silicon to be manufactured, are lightweight, flexible, and have high power conversion efficiencies.
Perovskite solar cells are very flexible, so they’re not restricted to application on flat surfaces.
They can contour to fit intricate curved shapes, such as the outside of a car. Thanks to the perovskites’ flexibility and low mass, they can complement silicon applications, filling gaps where silicon might not be easily applied.
Rayleigh’s perovskites could play a role in almost any integrated photovoltaic application.
“The big advantage we have over conventional solar panels is the cost of manufacturing.”
– Dr. Ajan Ramachandran, Optics Research Scientist
The main advantage of Rayleigh’s technology over traditional solar cells is the reduced cost of manufacturing. High-purity monocrystalline silicon requires heating sand or quartz (silicon dioxide) to temperatures of around 2200 ℃, and its production requires extensive support infrastructure to achieve such extreme conditions.
In contrast, the entire roll-to-roll perovskite manufacturing process can be accomplished with temperatures below 150 ℃. The potential for high-throughput roll-to-roll production at a greatly reduced cost will allow for a further reduction in the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of solar, and broader accessibility to the public.
Today, Rayleigh Solar Tech has grown into a diverse, enthusiastic team of 27, among whom you can find fluency in a dozen languages. The team is serious about caring for the Earth. They are passionate about reducing the impact of climate change on future generations.
Identifying the Road Blocks in Commercial Perovskite Manufacturing
Reaching Solar Industry Compliance and Expanding Testing
The process of translating a technology from the lab to the commercial sector is not easy and often requires additional research, optimization, or industry standard compliance. Rayleigh is working to ensure they meet standards such as IEC 61215 which outlines a barrage of tests and qualifications their modules must pass before being commercially viable.
Scaling Up Perovskite Modules
Although Rayleigh’s initial perovskite modules have been smaller than one square inch, they need to demonstrate the technology can perform at much larger sizes. For that, they’ll need a solar simulator that can fully illuminate larger modules with high-quality, uniform light.
During Dr. Sam March’s initial perovskite research, he used a xenon arc lamp which only illuminated a one-square-inch area. Rayleigh needed testing tools to scale up with their production and product development. After all, their vision was to start selling to major electric vehicle industry players, so they needed to prove the feasibility of their technology in larger area samples.
Increasing Solar Cell Module Efficiency
Scaling up efficiency to larger area solar cells is a considerable scientific and engineering challenge. However, Rayleigh is boldly working to further boost the efficiency of their flexible modules and increase overall energy harvesting.
Academic investigations into perovskites in a variety of configurations show that perovskites have the potential to do much better than silicon for a more accessible initial cost, and Rayleigh wants to bring that to fruition in the commercial realm.
Accelerating Commercial Perovskites Manufacturing with Class AAA Solar Simulation
Bridging Through Creative Destruction Lab (CDL)
Rayleigh needed a large-area solar simulator as a fundamental tool to enable them to progress on all fronts. They received guidance from the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), the nonprofit that provided the same science and tech scale-up program that G2V Optics went through. CDL referred Dr. Sam March to G2V Optics, where they learned about the Sunbrick Class AAA LED-based solar simulator.
Class AAA Large-Area Illumination Without Excess Heating
The Sunbrick provided Rayleigh with the large-area Class A spatial uniformity solution they needed. The high spectral match also meant their modules didn’t experience excess heating as they would with the thermal emission of a traditional xenon arc lamp. This simplified sample handling by mitigating the need for elaborate temperature control.
Tunability for Assessing Spectral Dependence and Perovskite Degradation
Sunbrick’s high tunability through adjustable LED channels provided Rayleigh with a few added advantages and opportunities for their anticipated work.
They can now more thoroughly probe their modules’ spectral dependence and in particular any spectrally-dependent degradation mechanisms.
Rather than assessing their module quality through a single efficiency number, they can now make more nuanced investigations via a more flexible solar simulator.
Integrating Sunbrick’s Python API for Easy Interface and Automation
Sunbrick’s simple, intuitive interface has been very useful for Rayleigh’s initial needs, but they were thrilled when they learned about its Python API functionality.
Being able to script and automate day-night cycling and on-off testing will unlock a lot of potential for them, allowing their solar simulator and modules to work continuously on generating the plethora of test results they need on the path to commercialization.
Expanding Spectral Range for Enhancing Perovskite Testing
Rayleigh initially purchased a Sunbrick in the visible spectrum range (400 nm – 700 nm, model SBRK-L(A)-DIR), but they wanted to expand their spectral capabilities without tying up their large area testing.
They then purchased a G2V Optics’ Class AAA Pico solar simulator with a wider spectral range (350 nm – 1100 nm, model PICO-KLMN(A)-DIR), to enable them to do full-spectrum testing on smaller initial samples.
Rayleigh’s needs didn’t just stop with the two instruments.
With the recent growth of the company, they knew another Sunbrick would be needed but with a larger spectrum range (400 nm – 1100 nm) to accommodate their future plans.
This now gives them the full-scale potential of accurately testing small to large area, cells to wafers.
“The Sunbrick’s LED technology and large area were most interesting to us. The user interface is really good. [The Sunbrick has] really satisfied our testing needs.”
– Dr. Ajan Ramachandran, Optics Research Scientist
Moving Perovskites Closer to a Commercial Future
Armed with the right tools they need to validate their modules, Rayleigh plans to escalate to mass production of their roll-to-roll technology, as well as improve device efficiency, characterize on a wider spectral range and obtain certification.
Equipped with robust validation tools, Rayleigh will be able to easily transfer their perovskites into building-integrated photovoltaics or other applications. As with all of our customers, G2V has enjoyed working with Rayleigh as a partner and looks forward to continued engagement and support on their future successes.
Together, G2V and Rayleigh are working to design and deploy the technology needed for a sustainable future.