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Recycling Perovskite Solar Cells To Avoid Lead Waste

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journal contribution
posted on 05.05.2016, 00:00 by Andreas Binek, Michiel L. Petrus, Niklas Huber, Helen Bristow, Yinghong Hu, Thomas Bein, Pablo Docampo
Methylammonium lead iodide (MAPbI3) perovskite based solar cells have recently emerged as a serious competitor for large scale and low-cost photovoltaic technologies. However, since these solar cells contain toxic lead, a sustainable procedure for handling the cells after their operational lifetime is required to prevent exposure of the environment to lead and to comply with international electronic waste disposal regulations. Herein, we report a procedure to remove every layer of the solar cells separately, which gives the possibility to selectively isolate the different materials. Besides isolating the toxic lead iodide in high yield, we show that the PbI2 can be reused for the preparation of new solar cells with comparable performance and in this way avoid lead waste. Furthermore, we show that the most expensive part of the solar cell, the conductive glass (FTO), can be reused several times without any reduction in the performance of the devices. With our simple recycling procedure, we address both the risk of contamination and the waste disposal of perovskite based solar cells while further reducing the cost of the system. This brings perovskite solar cells one step closer to their introduction into commercial systems.