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Using Math to Search for a 'Needle in a Haystack' to Make Better Solar Cells

CCMR researchers have used mathematical methods, typically used in business forecasting, to suggest which combination of components will make the best solar cell materials in a “perovskite” arrangement. These materials are made in solution, essentially in a beaker, at room temperature. This makes them far more energy-conservative than traditional silicon solar cells. But researchers are spoiled for choice in terms of components that could be put into the “soup;” too many to make in the lab. Instead, theorists have developed software that predicts the ingredients that lead to the best performing material. They typically find the optimal solution after testing only 10-15% of all the options. Researchers are now tackling even more complex solutions where the optimal solution cannot be known in advance.