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When I first saw the unique perovskite layer that is the key material of “perovskite solar cells,” widely known as a forerunner among next-generation solar cells, my first instinct was to think to myself, “this is the real deal!” Since 2010, I have been working on the research and development of organic solar cells as part of the “photoenergy conversion systems and materials for the next generation solar cells” initiative of JST PRESTO. In the midst of my research, solar cells that employ perovskite as a photoenergy conversion material began to swiftly garner attention. I quickly realized the immense potential of this material, and assembled researchers in PRESTO on a voluntary basis to launch Japan’s first research project on perovskite solar cells known as “Results Consolidation PJ.” Since then, with the support of several national programs, including JST COI, JST ALCA, and NEDO, we began working on the research and development on this type of solar cells.

Initially, I was conducting research in organic chemistry at a university. By taking advantage of my expertise in organic chemistry in the areas of material design, synthesis, analysis, and purification techniques that I have developed throughout my research, I succeeded in developing a high-purity perovskite semiconductor precursor material in 2014. This material is currently widely used worldwide as the standard material in the field of perovskite solar cell research. At the same time, I was also working on the development of techniques to produce high-quality perovskite thin films from coating substrates with this precursor material, and have succeeded in developing solar cells that boast photoenergy conversion efficiencies of above 20% through the use of these techniques.

Perovskite materials have extremely unique properties as compared to other organic solar cells made from thin-film coating techniques that we have worked with hitherto, and I have no doubt that perovskite solar cells have the potential to challenge conventional solar cells such as silicon and CIGS solar cells in the future. Through the practical use of solar cells made from these materials, i.e. “solar cells made from thin-film coating techniques,” it is possible to create portable power supplies that can be used anywhere for various ordinary electronic devices to meet the increasing energy demands of our society. I strongly believe that the research and development of perovskite solar cells should not be restricted to the realm of academic research, but instead, it should be put to use in the real world in order to change our world for the better. With the support of Kyoto University’s Incubation Program (Phase 1), EneCoat Technologies Co., Ltd. was established in January 2018.

At the end of 2018, we received generous investment from Kyoto University Innovation Capital (iCAP), and our company has since amplified research and development efforts with the aim of the commercialization of our research outcomes. In order to satisfy market demands with regard to cell performance and reliability, many issues remain to be resolved before we can begin the production of our solar cells, including the development of better high-performance materials, scaling-up techniques, and the establishment of efficient mass production methods. However, we believe in the potential of this material, and with your support, we will do our best to overcome these challenges. Thank you very much for your interest in EneCoat Technologies.

March 2019 EneCoat Technologies Co., Ltd. Co-founder / Chief Science Officer / Director Professor, Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University Atsushi Wakamiya