Perovskite Solar Cells

As far as the energy harvesting is concerned, the halides with perovskite architecture have emerged as the most promising photovoltaic materials which are cheap, scalable and solution processible. Even though power conversion efficiency (PCE) greater than 25% is achieved, the photo, thermal and moisture stability of these materials is far lower (less than 2 years) compared to other commercial PV technologies such as silicon PV (30 years).

The primary objective of the DST-IIT Kanpur CRADMET center will be to design materials for energy harvesting by employing quantum and classical mechanics-enabled atomistic simulations and AI&ML algorithms. We will scan a large compositional and configurational space for predicting new materials for low-cost clean energy materials and for efficient energy harnessing. We will also employ compositional engineering of the perovskite material to improve both efficiency and the stability of the PSC. Small molecule and polymer-based additives will be incorporated to improve perovskite crystallization, passivation of defects in the bulk and/or at the surface, and can also tune the energetics and the structure of the interface for increased ambient stability.
We will also work towards the development of low-cost, thermally and chemically robust transport materials, both hole and electron transport layers based on metal oxides to improve the thermal and photostability of the resulting solar cells. Automated advanced optical and electrical characterization and analysis of the perovskite solar cells will be performed to study and elucidate the materials degradation mechanism. The materials and device characterization data will be fed into AI/ML algorithm to predict environmentally robust compositions, that will be synthesized using automated and roboticized processing flow.

Smart Windows

The exponentially increasing demand for energy in the domestic sector may be mitigated to a large extent by efficiently modulating the indoor temperature and light. A reliable smart window technology can lead to efficient utilization of energy by modulating indoor cooling and lighting and together with import substitution, this technology will directly result in profound national, industrial and societal impact. Net-positive energy buildings are an integral part of a inevitable components of such buildings. At DST-IIT Kanpur center we will be synthesizing a wide range of novel viologens confirming their applicability to smart windows by characterizing them in terms of their electro-optical properties (switching kinetics, optical modulation, reversibility, coloration efficiency) and their operational and shelf stability in the form of small area devices. The best performing electrochromic materials and electrolytes will be scaled up.

Solar Thermal Energy

Solar receivers/collectors play an essential role in solar thermal-based hot water heating and cooling systems for buildings, steam generation for various industrial applications, and power production. Solar thermal energy is extensively used in industrial and domestic applications like solar drying operation, space heating, cooling, water heating, desalting of water, etc., by non-concentrated and concentrated solar thermal (CST) systems. The solar receiver tube is one of the critical components in solar thermal technology. The evacuated tube solar collector is the most extensively used solar thermal collector in the market. The development of novel materials with low cost and high solar absorptance is more critical for economic and high-performance solar energy harvesting and thermal energy storage systems.

Transition metal-based spinel is a suitable candidate and are typically used for solar absorber material due to the presence of partially filled d-orbitals, which allows for excellent absorption of solar radiation and is tuned to get a spectral selective nature by a suitable combination of two or three transition metal oxides. At the first stage synthesis of nano spinel and low refractive materials (MgF2/ SiO2) will be performed for coating development from lab to prototype receiver tube (1m). Moving forward we will focus on spinel-based nanocomposite PCM from lab to 1 kWh prototype. Further, design and fabrication of solar receiver tubes and thermal storage system Integration and validation by using center's facility.

Thermo-Regulating Tiles

Thermal insulation to the buildings for reducing the indoor ambient temperature in summer and keeping the indoor space warm during winter is the most desired product, which can reduce the electricity load required for air conditioning. The products available in the market related to this domain are thermal insulation paints for walls and roofs, plaster, bricks, etc. Presently, thermal insulation is generally achieved by adding hollow glass microspheres to the matrix such as paint or putty. In order to achieve the optimum temperature inside the building, DST-IIT Kanpur center will use a high enthalpy and low-cost solid-state (SS) shape stabilised phase change material along with the existing aerogel technology for producing an effective thermo-regulating tiles. SS shape stabilised phase change materials for thermal energy storage have received increasing interest because of their high energy-storage density and inherent advantages over solid-liquid counterparts (e.g., leakage free, no need for encapsulation, less phase segregation and smaller volume variation). The novelty of this investigation is the development of thermos-regulating tiles with a PCM (SS/Shape stabilised) and Aerogel powder that will be fabricated with the help of 3-D printing technology at DST-IIT Kanpur center.