Device characteristics and material developments of indoor photovoltaic devices

Addanki Venkateswararao, Johnny K.W. Ho, Shu Kong So*, Shun Wei Liu*, Ken Tsung Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Indoor photovoltaics (IPVs), which convert the indoor light energy into direct electricity, have attracted research attention due to their potential use as an excellent amicable solution of sustainable power source to drive low-power-needed sensors for the internet of things (IoT) applications. Our daily life adopts various indoor light sources, such as indirect sunlight, incandescent lamps, halogen lamps, fluorescent lamps, and LED bulbs, that typically deliver lower light intensity (200–1000 lux) as compared to that of sun light (∼100,000 lx). In this review, we firstly classified the indoor lights depending on their working mechanism and resulting emission spectrum. Because the indoor light intensities are rather low that may lead to overestimate/underestimate the power conversion efficiency (PCE) of IPV devices, then, the cautious points for correctly measuring the indoor light intensity as well as the device characteristics are summarized. Several light sources with various light intensities are reported so far, but for lack of common or standard calibration meter that induces a ambiguity in PCE determination, so we suggest/propose to use a universal LED lux meter with NIST-traceable calibration (e.g. Extech LT40-NIST) and also recommended the device results are expressed in maximum power point Pmax along with PCE values. It is generally believed that the materials play key roles on the performance of the IPV devices. Since the indoor light intensity is much weaker as compared to that of outdoor irradiation, the typical inferior photo-stability of organic materials under sunlight may not be as crucial as we considered to harvest indoor light energy, opening a great room for organic IPV material developments. In principle, all materials for outdoor PVs may also be useful for IPVs, but the fundamental material requirement for IPVs which needs sufficiently covering the absorption range between the 350–700 nm with high molar extinction coefficient should be primarily concerned. In order to get the thorough knowledge of materials for achieving better efficient IPVs, the reported IPVs were collected and summarized. According to these reports, the materials utilized for IPVs have been classified into two major groups, inorganic and organic materials, then divided them into several sub-classes, including (1) silicon and III-V semiconductor photovoltaics, (2) dye-sensitized photovoltaics, (3) organic photovoltaics, and (4) perovskite-based photovoltaics, depend on their structural nature and device working principle. For every individual class, the structure-property-efficiency relationship of the materials was analyzed together with the highlights on the best efficiency material, challenge and perspective. For inorganic IPV materials, III-V semiconductor GaAs-based IPVs performed a very impressive PCE (28%). For dye sensitizers, there are more flexible strategies to modulate the absorption profiles of organic materials. A high efficiency dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC)-based IPV with a PCE up to 32% has been successfully realized with co-sensitized dyes. For organic solar cell (OSC)-based IPVs, fullerene-based acceptors are advantageous for their well-matching desired absorption range and superior electron transport features. A recent OSC-based IPV with the active layer composed of dithienobenzene-based donor and fullerene acceptor was reported to deliver a PCE of 28%. Among these emerging photovoltaic materials, it is no doubt that perovskites (e.g. CH3NH3PbI3) are superior for solar energy conversion due to the crystallinity for good charge transport, better spectral coverage and the low exciton binding energy. Until very recent, a perovskite-based IPV with a PCE of 35% was reported with good stability by the incorporation of an ionic liquid for effectively passivating the surface of the perovskite film, indicating the bright prospect of perovskite for IPV application. Overall, the review on these reports implies the essential criteria of materials suitable for IPVs that may trigger new ideas for developing future champion materials for various devices and the realization of practical IPV applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100517
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering: R: Reports
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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