Nanostructured Materials for Photovoltaic Energy Group

Group Leader: Mónica Lira-Cantú

Main Research Lines

  • Photovoltaics: Next-generation thin-film, organic, hybrid, dye-sensitised, halide perovskite and all-oxide solar cells
  • Synthesis of nanomaterials by low-cost, low-temperature and green solution processing methods
  • Solution processing methods for the fabrication of solar cells and printed electronics
  • Degradation studies of the stability of solar cells following ISOS protocols
  • Semiconductor oxides for energy and ICT applications by solution processing fabrication
  • Self-driven energy devices

The Nanostructured Materials for Photovoltaic Energy Group has several key objectives, all of them related to the development of highly-efficient, highly-stable and low-cost solution processable photovoltaic and optoelectronic devices.

A major goal is the synthesis of nanostructured materials, especially those involving transition metal oxides (TMOs) and graphene, via the application of low-cost and solution processing methods. TMOs have many possible applications as main active materials or barrier layers, though they also find applications as materials for external light management. The application of low-temperature synthesis methods (sol-gel, hydrothermal, SILAR, among many others) permits tuning and control of the properties of the final device. These oxides are being applied in our group as nanostructured materials (nanorods, nanowires, nanotrees, core-shell, etc.) and dense thin films in the various next-generation solar cells offering excellent performance in term of efficiency and lifetime. The functionalisation of these oxide surfaces is now carried out in our group by anchoring self-assembled monolayers with selected anchoring groups to interact simultaneously with the oxide and the active light harvesting material.  

The stability and lifetime of optoelectronic devices, especially organic and perovskite solar cells, is a major limitation for these technologies. An important contribution of the group is the study and characterisation of solar cell stability following degradation and characterisation protocols. Prof. Lira-Cantu coordinates a COST Action with a consortium of more than 470 members, among them 60 internationally-recognised research laboratories and 22 companies from 35 countries. StableNextSol, as the project is known, is related to the stability of organic and perovskite solar cells. Its goal is to take advantage of the multiple characterisation techniques available through the different partners to elucidate the degradation mechanism of these devices and propose disruptive solutions towards highly stable organic solar cells.

Other interests include the development of self-driven energy devices for ICT and bio-related applications.


Group Leader

Mónica Lira-Cantú

CSIC Tenured Scientist

Mónica Lira-Cantú (Chemistry, 1992), obtained her master's and PhD degrees in Materials Science at the Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB) and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in 1995 and 1997, respectively. She then completed her postdoctoral work in the form of a contract between Schneider Electric and ICMAB in 1998. From 1999 to 2001 she worked as permanent senior staff chemist at ExxonMobil Research & Engineering (formerly Mobil Technology Co) in New Jersey (USA) establishing a group on energy-related applications. Besides her role as leader of the ICN2 Nanostructured Materials for Photovoltaic Energy Group, she is currently a visiting professor at the Laboratory of Photomolecular Science (LSPM) of the Ècole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. 

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Highlighted Publication

Incorporation of Counter Ions in Organic Molecules: New Strategy in Developing Dopant-Free Hole Transport Materials for Efficient Mixed-Ion Perovskite Solar Cells
Zhang J., Xu B., Yang L., Mingorance A., Ruan C., Hua Y., Wang L., Vlachopoulos N., Lira-Cantú M., Boschloo G., Hagfeldt A., Sun L., Johansson E.M.J. Advanced Energy Materials (2017)

All publications