Physicists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have proven that incoming light causes the electrons in warm perovskites to rotate thus influencing the direction of the flow of electrical current. They have thus found the key to an important characteristic of these crystals, which could play an important role in the development of new solar cells.
Efficiency from spinning electrons
The sun plays an important role in the use of renewable energy sources. Its radiation energy provides heat and the light it provides can be converted into electricity thanks to photovoltaics. Perovskites, which are crystalline compounds that can be simply manufactured using chemical processes, have been considered a promising means of using the power of sunlight cost effectively for several years now. Under laboratory conditions, prototypes have achieved surprising levels of efficiency.
There is little knowledge about precisely why perovskites are so powerful. ‘Two factors are decisive for generating electrical energy cost-efficiently from sunlight’, says Dr. Daniel Niesner from the Chair of Solid State Physics at FAU. ‘One the one hand, the light must excite as many electrons as possible in a layer that’s as thin as possible. On the other, the electrons must be able to flow as freely as possible to the electrodes that pick up the current.’
Researchers suspect that perovskites make particularly good use of the rotation of electrons for efficient current flow. ‘Each electron has ‘spin’, similar to the intrinsic rotation of a billiard ball’, explains Niesner. ‘As is the case with billiard balls, where left-hand or right-hand spin when they are hit with the cue leads to a curved path on the table, scientists have suspected that rotation and forward movement in electrons in perovskites could also be linked.’
Orderly atomic structure
Physicists at FAU in Erlangen have now confirmed this suspicion for the first time. In their experiments, they used a laser whose light also has spin or a direction of rotation. The result: If a crystal is exposed to light with a left-hand spin, the electrons move to the left. If the direction of the light is reversed, the direction of the flow of electrons also reverses. ‘The experiments clearly demonstrate that the direction of rotation of the electrons and the direction of flow of current are linked.’
Up to now, scientists presumed that the atomic structure of perovskites was too ‘orderly’ for such behaviour. In actual fact, experiments with cooled perovskite crystals show only a very weak link between the direction of rotation of the electrons and the direction of current flow. ‘This changes, however, when the crystals are heated to room temperature because the movement of the atoms leads to fluctuating deviations of the highly-ordered structure’, says Nieser.
‘The heat enables the crystals of perovskite to link the direction of rotation and flow of the electrons. A ‘normal’ crystal couldn’t do that.’
The discovery of the connection between heat and spin in electrons means that the FAU researchers have uncovered a vital aspect of the unusual flow of current in perovskites. Their work could contribute to improving the understanding of the high energy efficiency of these crystals and to developing new materials for photovoltaics in the future.
Dr. Daniel Niesner
Phone: +49 9131 8528403
The results have now been published in the renowned journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1805422115 – ‘Structural fluctuations cause spin-split states in tetragonal (CH3NH3)PbI3: Experimental evidence from circular photogalvanic effect’, ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’).
Dr. Susanne Langer | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Spintronics: Researchers show how to make non-magnetic materials magnetic
06.08.2020 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Manifestation of quantum distance in flat band materials
05.08.2020 | Institute for Basic Science
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.
Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...
An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.
Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...
Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...
“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.
Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...
An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...
23.07.2020 | Event News
21.07.2020 | Event News
07.07.2020 | Event News
06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences
06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
06.08.2020 | Life Sciences