Accelerating Photovoltaic Materials Development via High-Throughput Experiments and Machine-Learning-Assisted Diagnosis
Accelerating the experimental cycle for new materials development is vital for addressing the grand energy challenges of the 21st century. We fabricate and characterize 75 unique halide perovskite-inspired solution-based thin-film materials within a two-month period, with 87% exhibiting band gaps between 1.2 eV and 2.4 eV that are of interest for energy-harvesting applications. This increased throughput is enabled by streamlining experimental workflows, developing a set of precursors amenable to high-throughput synthesis, and developing machine-learning assisted diagnosis. We utilize a deep neural network to classify compounds based on experimental X-ray diffraction data into 0D, 2D, and 3D structures more than 10 times faster than human analysis and with 90% accuracy. We validate our methods using lead-halide perovskites and extend the application to novel lead-free compositions. The wider synthesis window and faster cycle of learning enables three noteworthy scientific findings: (1) we realize four inorganic layered perovskites, A3B2Br9 (A = Cs, Rb; B = Bi, Sb) in thin-film form via one-step liquid deposition; (2) we report a multi-site lead-free alloy series that was not previously described in literature, Cs3(Bi1-xSbx)2(I1-xBrx)9; and (3) we reveal the effect on bandgap (reduction to <2 eV) and structure upon simultaneous alloying on the B-site and X-site of Cs3Bi2I9 with Sb and Br. This study demonstrates that combining an accelerated experimental cycle of learning and machine-learning based diagnosis represents an important step toward realizing fully-automated laboratories for materials discovery and development.