Bridging the gap between photovoltaics R&D and manufacturing with data-driven optimization

28 Apr 2020  ·  Felipe Oviedo, Zekun Ren, Xue Hansong, Siyu Isaac Parker Tian, Kaicheng Zhang, Mariya Layurova, Thomas Heumueller, Ning Li, Erik Birgersson, Shijing Sun, Benji Mayurama, Ian Marius Peters, Christoph J. Brabec, John Fisher III, Tonio Buonassisi ·

Novel photovoltaics, such as perovskites and perovskite-inspired materials, have shown great promise due to high efficiency and potentially low manufacturing cost. So far, solar cell R&D has mostly focused on achieving record efficiencies, a process that often results in small batches, large variance, and limited understanding of the physical causes of underperformance. This approach is intensive in time and resources, and ignores many relevant factors for industrial production, particularly the need for high reproducibility and high manufacturing yield, and the accompanying need of physical insights. The record-efficiency paradigm is effective in early-stage R&D, but becomes unsuitable for industrial translation, requiring a repetition of the optimization procedure in the industrial setting. This mismatch between optimization objectives, combined with the complexity of physical root-cause analysis, contributes to decade-long timelines to transfer new technologies into the market. Based on recent machine learning and technoeconomic advances, our perspective articulates a data-driven optimization framework to bridge R&D and manufacturing optimization approaches. We extend the maximum-efficiency optimization paradigm by considering two additional dimensions: a technoeconomic figure of merit and scalable physical inference. Our framework naturally aligns different stages of technology development with shared optimization objectives, and accelerates the optimization process by providing physical insights.

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