Australian researchers are using NCI's supercomputer Raijin to develop a way of improving the humidity tolerance of a new type of solar cell technology.

The new solar cells, based on a compound with perovskite structures, are cheaper to make than traditional silicon cells but their use in real world devices is limited by the fact that they suffer from a drop in performance in humid conditions.

Dr Yun Wang from Griffith University has been using Raijin to develop a way to create an efficient water resistant layer on the solar cells, to protect them from high humidity without losing their ability to convert solar power efficiently.

Improving the humidity tolerance of perovskite materials is a necessary step towards large-scale production of high-performance perovskite-based solar cells.

"Scientists are currently looking for green technologies by preventing waste, using renewable resources, designing environmentally friendly products, increasing catalytic selectivity and reducing energy consumption," explains Dr Wang.

"Using state-of-the-art quantum mechanics techniques combined with the development of data and materials science, scientists can now do 'virtual' screening of candidate materials to theoretically forecast their performance through comprehensive understanding of their structural, electronic, magnetic and optical properties."  

Dr Wang says NCI plays an essential role in his work and that he wouldn't be able to conduct the research without having access to the facilities.

"Computational cost is very high to achieve my research goals because all my calculations need to be conducted using a high-performance supercomputer," he says.

"NCI allows me to access the best supercomputer in Australia, which enables me to do my research in an effective and efficient way."  

He says the research is in response to long-term environmental and energy-related crises driven by population growth, limited fossil resources, pollution, and climate change.

"I have carried out electronic structure calculations to gain insights on related mechanistic chemistry and molecularly design novel materials with improved stability to moisture," he says.

"As an excellent complement to current advances in material synthesis, material characterization, and reaction engineering, my research area about the computational materials science is being rapidly developed to accelerate the development of green technologies.

"The screening of potential functional materials is an important step for using cheap, earth abundant materials to improve renewable energy resources," says Dr Wang.

This research is published in Nature Energy and has been conducted in collaboration with a Chinese experimental group, directed by Professor Hua Gui Yang.