Via pv-tech. Brief note on efficiency record: Solarmer has managed to get an (NREL certified) power conversion efficiency of 7.9% for an organic solar cell… sounds good, and broke the recent record (by the same company). It is important to mention, though, that the active area was very small with 0.1cm2 (aperture 0.047cm2).
Many people believe that organic photovoltaics companies will have to prove soon that they can come up with commercially viable products within the next two-three years. In this context, Heliatek, a Germany based company developing organic small molecule solar cells with high efficiency, has received 18 Million Euros in a second round of funding from venture capitalists and others. From the press release:
Heliatek will be utilizing the new funding primarily to build an initial production facility in Dresden. In this step and right through to mass production, the company will be using its proprietary tandem technology to efficiently produce, flexible and very lightweight PV modules on a film substrate. Their weight will be merely 500 grams per square meter, instead of today’s customary 20 kilograms per square meter. This will open up a forward-looking market for mobile applications, for architectural solutions and for independently supplying regions with weak infrastructures.
Indeed, interesting times for OPV – particularly in view of the commercial aspects! The science aspects are also getting more and more interesting, but unfortunately I thus have less and less time to write about them here…
Brief note: 5.9 % power conversion efficiency (german, translation here; [Update 28.11.2009] it now says 6.07%) from small molecule p-i-n tandem solar cell with 2 sqcm area, made by Heliatek in Dresden. Nice picture (also by Heliatek:-) .
The claim “new world record: efficiency of organic solar cell increased to 5.9%” should be preceded by “almost”, or succeeded by “based on small molecules”, because less than 2 months ago, Konarka had a press release about a certified efficiency of 6.4% for an organic bulk heterojunction solar cell. Although not mentioned in the press release, this one is probably not a tandem cell.
[Update 3.9.2009] After talking to Moritz Riede, a researcher from Dresden, I understood that the world record is unique in as far as the area is above one square-centimeter: 2 cm2, whereas the Konarka cell has only 0.76 cm2 – almost at, but not quite above “unity”. This distinction comes from the solar cell efficiency tables by Green et al. (see for instance [Green 2009]).
Thus, the 5.9% are best for small molecule based solar cells, and the best organic solar cells above one cm2: congratulations!
Just a brief note, via Slashdot and Technology Review: a Cambridge group has published the synthesis route for a fullerene polymer – they call it fullerene-based one-dimensional nanopolymer – which might be an interesting acceptor material for organic photovoltaics. The preprint can be found on arXiv. The fullerene polymer has not been functionalised yet, it is thus not soluble enough for solution processing. Also, the electrical conductivity remains an open question… are the spacers critical? Nevertheless, interesting addition to the group of fullerene derivatives, after the recent bis-fullerenes [Lenes 2008] and endohedral fullerenes [Ross 2009].
Yesterday, a new report on the future prospects of the organic photovoltaics business was presented by the analyst firm Nanomarkets. It is said to include a roadmap for improvements in organic solar cell lifetimes and efficiencies, as well as forecast of volume and price of relevant materials over the course of eight years.
I cannot comment on the analysts’ expertise, although they are specialised on market research for organic and printable electronics – which has pros (they know what they are talking about) and cons (they might be pretty subjective), I reckon;-) See their press release here. All in all, a promising future is just what we need:-)
Panel discussion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting about where research efforts (and funding;-) should be focused concerning energy production and use. Nanotechnology might play a key role – to which organics belong, even though they are not explicitly mentioned. The discussion is summarised at Ars Technica. One conclusion:
So from the generation side, there were several key messages about where we should be putting our money: go with solar, increase efficiencies using nanoparticles, find a way to use cheap and abundant raw materials, and think seriously about thermoelectric materials.
The German physical society published a study about climate, energy, and what related research is needed back in 2005, yet still contains uptodate concepts and ideas. But I still wonder: Do Europeans actually have an organisation similar to the AAAS mentioned above, or similar meetings?
Plextronics just opened its first manufacturing development line for organic ink (in contrast to the inorganic ink news from last week) to be used in polymer solar cells. A stage prior to production, this is still good news for the organic photovoltaics community. The spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University, founded in 2002, describes its focus as being
on organic solar cell and organic light emitting diodes (OLED), specifically the conductive inks and process technologies that enable those and other similar applications.
Last week, the german company Roth and Rau – supplier of plasma process systems for the photovoltaics industry – had a press release: they just finished the installation of a new production line for inkjet printing of silicon solar panels, together with Innovalight. See here (or in german here). Innovalight has developed the silicon ink technology in recent year, in collaboration with NREL and others. Low level of details, as typical for press realeases, but certainly interesting. And a competitor for printed organic solar cells even before they are in the production stage, even if on track.