Solar panel installations are on the rise in the U.S., with more than 2 million new installations in early 2019, the most ever recorded in a first quarter, according to a recent report by Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.

To meet the ever-increasing demands, low-cost and more efficient alternatives to silicon-based solar cells — currently the most widely used technology — are desirable. In the past decade, lead-halide perovskites have surged as the most promising class of alternative materials; however, they are unstable. They contain lead, which is toxic and poses potential health and environmental hazards such as groundwater contamination.

A team of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis has found what they believe is a more stable, less toxic semiconductor for solar applications using a novel double perovskite oxide discovered through data analytics and quantum-mechanical calculations.

Their work was published online June 11 in Chemistry of Materials.

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