A Penn State-led team of researchers have created a new process to fabricate large perovskite devices that is more cost- and time-effective than previously possible — and may accelerate future materials discovery.
“This method we developed allows us to easily create very large bulk samples within several minutes, rather than days or weeks using traditional methods,” said Lead Author Luyao Zheng. “And our materials are high quality — their properties can compete with single-crystal perovskites.”
The team used a sintering method called the electrical and mechanical field-assisted sintering technique (EM-FAST, also known as spark plasma sintering) to create the devices. A typical process for making perovskites involves wet chemistry — the materials are liquefied in a solvent solution and then solidified into thin films.
“Our technique is the best of both worlds,” said Bed Poudel, a Researcher Professor at Penn State and a co-author. “We get single-crystal-like properties, and we don’t have to worry about size limitations or any contamination or yield of toxic materials.”
Since it uses dry materials, EM-FAST opens the door to include new dopants, ingredients added to tailor device properties, that are not compatible with the wet chemistry used to make thin films.
“This opens up possibilities to design and develop new classes of materials, including better thermoelectric and solar materials, as well as X- and γ-ray detectors,” said Co-Author Amin Nozariasbmarz. “Some of the applications are things we already know, but because this is a new technique to make new halide perovskite materials with controlled properties, structures, and compositions, maybe there is room in the future for new breakthroughs to come from that.”
Furthermore, the new process allows for layered materials to create designer compositions. In the future, manufactures could design specific devices and then directly print them from dry powders, the team noted.
“We anticipate this FAST perovskite would open another dimension for high throughput material synthesis, future manufacturing directly printing devices from powder and accelerating the material discovery of new perovskite compositions,” said Co-Author Kai Wang.
EM-FAST involves applying electric current and pressure to powders to create new materials, and it has a 100 percent yield — compared to 20 to 30 percent in solution-based processing.
The technique — which produced perovskite materials at 0.2 inch per minute, allowing scientists to quickly create large devices that maintained high performance in laboratory tests — has long been used to create thermoelectric devices, but this work represents the first attempt to create perovskite materials with the technique, the team said.
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