Biodeterioration affecting efficiency and lifetime of plastic-based photovoltaics
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The low environmental impact of electricity generation using solar cells crucially depends on high energy-conversion efficiencies, long lifetimes and a minimal energy and material demand during production. Emerging thin-film photovoltaics such as perovskites on plastic substrates could hold promise to fulfil all these requirements. Under real-world operating conditions photovoltaic operation is challenged by biological stressors, which have not been incorporated for evaluation in any test. Such stressors cause biodeterioration, which impairs diverse, apparently inert materials such as rock, glass and steel and therefore could significantly affect the function and stability of plastic-based solar cells. Given that different photovoltaic technologies commonly use similar materials, the biodeterioration mechanisms reviewed here may possibly affect the efficiency and lifetimes of several technologies, if they occur sufficiently fast (during the expected lifetime of photovoltaics). Once the physical integrity of uppermost module layers is challenged by biofilm growth microbially mediated dissolution and precipitation reactions of photovoltaic functional materials are very likely to occur. The biodeterioration of substrates and seals also represents emission points for the release of potentially harmful photovoltaic constituents to the environment