Belectric aquires German Konarka Daughter

Related to this post on Konarka’s bankruptcy: According to a range of news sites, Bear Lake in the Rocky Mountainsincluding, the german company Belectric has acquired Konarka Technologies. Find the press release here (pdf).

The system integrator Belectric is situated in Lower Franconia, less than 50km from Würzburg and less than 10km from where I live. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

New Record for Organic Solar Cells and other stuff

Solarmer did it again: 8.13% power conversion efficiency, certified by NREL, were anounced at the currently running SPIE Optics and Photonics conference in San Diego.

I am also here, my talk will be on wednesday afternoon – but do not expect any breakthroughs in terms of performance from me:-) Maybe there will be more news here in the days to come.

Foothill Mountains - Russian RidgeIn June and July, I was visiting scientist in the group of Mike McGehee at Stanford University for five very interesting weeks. Thanks again for hosting me, and for the interesting discussions we had! I also had a brief visit to PARC, the Palo Alto Research Center, for an interesting discussion with Robert Street about the photocurrent in organic solar cells. We finally agreed to disagree on some issues, but from my point of view, that’s absolutely fine.

During my Stanford visit, there was fortunately time enough for hiking in the Foothill Mountains as well! Highly recommended. Thanks to Andreas and Verena as well as Matthias for getting me started.

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Funding for Organic Photovoltaics Company

Many people believe that organic photovoltaics companies will have to prove soon that Fliegenpilz im Herbstwald (no direct connection between photo and blog content are implied;-)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…

P.S. Another company Solexant just starts the production of hybrid solar cells after the process developed by the group of Paul Alivisatos at Berkeley, as reported by Technology Review.

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Making The Round: New Report on Materials for Organic Photovoltaics Sector

Via David Kirkpatrick’s Blog: Little Friend

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:-)

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Industry Again…

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. Boston SkylineA 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.

I mentioned Plextronics already last year, as they presented the (up to now, I believe) highest certified power conversion efficiency for an organic solar cell.

Indeed, industry news again… for next time, I promise more fundamentals;-)

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To be improved: Lifetime of Organic Solar Cells

I just came across this press release from the before-mentioned organic solar cell company Konarka. Boston Evening OneI mention it particularly, as our research group participates in this BMBF project to improve the stability of organic solar cells.

A somewhat older press release (see here and here) by the belgian research institute IMEC shows how they managed to improve the stability of the donor material, a conjugated polymer. The improvement is apparent from electrical characteristics and TEM images.

Not being quite as fancy as efficiency improvements, the lifespan of organic solar cells is probably more important for a ssuccessful commercialisation. As you know now that we are “officially” involved, stay tuned: this topics interests me from a fundamental research perspective.

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Mass Production of Plastic Solar Cells

LookTechnology Review has a piece on the first commercial fab for organic solar cells.

In a significant milestone in the deployment of flexible, printed photovoltaics, Konarka, a solar-cell startup based in Lowell, MA, has opened a commercial-scale factory, with the capacity to produce enough organic solar cells every year to generate one gigawatt of electricity, the equivalent of a large nuclear reactor.

Read it here, or the corresponding Konarka press release.

Thanks to Henning for the link.

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Optimisation Routes for Organic Solar Cells – Absorption

In order to improve the power conversion efficiency of organic solar cells, novel donor and acceptor materials will have to be synthesised. energy-levels-in-bilayer-solar-cell.png Properties looked for are the ability to self-organise – enhancing order and thus charge transport – and an absorption spectrum as wide as possible, being one of the major limiting factors as of yet. Nowadays, in most cases only the donor material absorbs light efficiently; an absorbing acceptor has a large potential for increasing the photocurrent. Additionally, by a variation of the relative energy levels of donor and acceptor material, the energy loss due to the electron transfer can be minimised: For light absorption in the donor, it is hoped that if the energy offset between donor LUMO (lowest unoccupied molecular orbital) and acceptor LUMO is a tiny bit larger than the exciton binding energy, a positive impact on the open-circuit voltage will be seen.

In the figure, the schematic energy level diagram of a bilayer solar cell is shown. The anode is made of TCO (transparent conductive oxide), then follow donor and acceptor, and finally the metal cathode. Church inside top The exciton is photogenerated in the donor, which can diffuse to and dissociate at the interface to the acceptor. The resulting polaron pair then is energetically separated by the effective band gap of the organic solar cell, Eg.The smaller the LUMO-LUMO offset & – which still has to be larger than the exciton binding energy – the larger Eg: the open circuit voltage is maximised, as it equals Eg minus band bending BB and the injection barriers phi [Cheyns 2008].

Continue reading “Optimisation Routes for Organic Solar Cells – Absorption”