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Researchers at McGill University have gained new insight into the workings of perovskites, a semiconductor material that shows great promise for making high-efficiency, low-cost solar cells and a range of other optical and electronic devices.

Perovskites have drawn attention over the past decade because of their ability to act as semiconductors even when there are defects in the material's crystal structure. This makes perovskites special because getting most other semiconductors to work well requires stringent and costly manufacturing techniques to produce crystals that are as defect-free as possible. In what amounts to the discovery of a new state of matter, the McGill team has made a step forward in unlocking the mystery of how perovskites pull off this trick.

"Historically, people have been using bulk semiconductors that are perfect crystals. And now, all of a sudden, this imperfect, soft crystal starts to work for semiconductor applications, from photovoltaics to LEDs," explains senior author Patanjali Kambhampati, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at McGill. "That's the starting point for our research: How can something that's defective work in a perfect way?"

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