HOPV2010 conference symposium and minor news

Three weeks ago I participated in a very nice Conference on Hybrid-Organic Photovoltaics (HOPV2010) in Assisi, ItalyAssisi. Juan Bisquert, member of the Scientific Commitee, had asked me to organise a discussion panel on Carrier lifetime in bulk heterojunction solar cells. Indeed, a lively exchange of concepts and ideas between the panel – James Durrant, Germa Garcia Belmonte, Gytis Juska and myself – and the audience developed. I would like to thank the organisers, the panelists and the participants of this symposium once again: it was great! I am not sure if I will be able to summarise some of the discussion highlights here, considering that even this note took me 20 days… but I strive to improve;-)

Short note: my short review finally came online. Coauthors are Vladimir Dyakonov and Christoph Brabec. In case you have access to IEEE, find the paper here.

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Type of Polaron Recombination under Short Circuit Conditions [Update]

Eagle (?) in the EvergladesAs promised, here a glimpse of why I believe that recombination in organic bulk heterojunction solar cells under short circuit conditions (and also at Voc) is not necessarily monomolecular.

Sometimes, the short circuit current density vs light intensity is measured, and from the linear scaling a dominant monomolecular recombination is concluded. In (partial) answer, we have performed some relevant device simulations (thanx to wapf). In short, we varied the generation of free charges over four orders of magnitude, assuming different polaron recombination mechanisms.

Continue reading “Type of Polaron Recombination under Short Circuit Conditions [Update]”

MRS Spring Meeting 2010… already over

Last week, the MRS Spring Meeting took place in San Francisco. It was my first time there, but certainly not the last! ruffled feathersI enjoyed it immensely, despite my extensive last minute preparations of the talk I was invited to give… another first timer for me (on an international conference). In case you are interested, find the slides on scribd. Prof. Venkateswara Bommisetty, one of the organisers of the GG symposium told me that the slides of invited talks will also be made available (if the authors agree).

Many interesting talks, too many to go into more detail in the given time!;-) Anyway, it was nice to meet Alex (glidera) and his colleague Bertrand in person, and spend time with Andy B and Tom!

It was difficult (if not impossible) to agree with Alan Heeger and Robert Street on their propositions that monomolecular recombination is the limiting factor for organic bulk heterojunction solar cells at short circuit current under one sun illumination. Thus, despite both of them being well-known and highly respected, I allow myself to express my strong belief (supported by transient experiments and macroscopic simulations;-) that bimolecular polaron recombination is the dominant loss mechanism for free polarons, instead of monomolecular polaron recombination. Maybe more on this later.

During the conference, and featured in the talk of Karl Leo, Heliatek announced another efficiency record for small molecule solar cells, enhancing their recent achievements to now 7.7% certified efficiency for a tandem cell with 1.1cm2. Again, my congratulations, great stuff!
Continue reading “MRS Spring Meeting 2010… already over”

Be aware of ads…

I finished the Review article I was Schlumpf1recently talking about. If you are interested, the preprint can be accessed here (in a few hours, 20:00 EST according to arXiv, so be patient;-) [Update 2nd March 2010] It’s up:-)

Reviews seem to be pretty subjective, and I am sure there are many omissions, but hopefully not too many inconsistencies. If there are any particular things you do like or do not like, or which are plain wrong: I am happy about every bit of constructive criticism! I submitted the article to Rep. Prog. Phys. It will be peer-reviewed, and I am pretty sure the referees’ comments will make the current version much less final as I’d like it to be;-)

[Update 25.6.2010] The review was accepted after some minor revisions, and is scheduled for publication by Rep. Prog. Phys. in September (2010).

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Towards ten percent… Solarmer hits 7.9% with plastic solar cell

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).

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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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Influence of Finite Surface Recombination Velocity on Efficiency vs. Mobility of Polymer Solar Cells

Just a quick addition to Mobility and Efficiency of Polymer Solar Cells. You might remember that with increasing mobility, the

Parrot in Flight
open circuit voltage Voc, however, decreases steadily. Actually, the slope steepness is maximum due to our implicit assumption of ideal charge extraction ; for a realistic charge extraction (= finite surface recombination), the Voc slope with mobility is weaker… or even constant for zero surface recombination. The fill factor is maximum at intermediate charge carrier mobilities, not far from the experimentally found values!

As we were finally able to calculate the open circuit voltage with a surface recombination less than infinity (thanks to Alexander Wagenpfahl),
I can show you how it looks. ([Update 3rd March 2010] For details, have a look here: [Wagenpfahl 2010, arxiv]) Continue reading “Influence of Finite Surface Recombination Velocity on Efficiency vs. Mobility of Polymer Solar Cells”

Photocurrent in organic solar cells – Part 1

In at least two previous posts (Picture Story and How do organic solar cells function – Part 1), I highlighted the field dependence of the photocurrent in organic solar cells, and its connection to the polaron pair dissociation. Actually, there is more to it.

The field dependence of the photocurrent is due to different contributions:

  • polaron pair dissociation (bulk heterojunctions and bilayers)
  • polaron recombination (mostly bulk heterojunctions)
  • charge extraction (bulk heterojunctions and bilayers)

An experimental curve of the photocurrent of a P3HT:PCBM solar cell is shown in the figure (relative to the point of optimum symmetry, as described by [Ooi 2008]. The symbols show our experimental data, the green curve a fit with two of the contributions mentioned above: polaron pair dissociation (after [Braun 1984]) and charge extraction (after [Sokel 1982]). Both models are simplified, but more on that later. Polaron recombination has been covered before (here and here); photocurrent-fit.jpgit is pretty low in state-of-the-art bulk heterojunction solar cells, and has therefore been neglected. For now, lets concentrate on the contribution from polaron pair dissociation. For the sample shown in the figure, the separation yield approaches 60% at short circuit current (at about 0.6V on the rescaled voltage axis, 0V corresponding to the flatband case). The question is, why is it so high in polymer-fullerene solar cells, considering that a charge pair has a binding energy og almost half an electron Volt at 1 nm distance, and that recombination is on the order of nanoseconds [Veldman 2008].

Continue reading “Photocurrent in organic solar cells – Part 1”

5.9% and more

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:-)
Small Molecule Solar Cell, Foto by Heliatek GmbH.

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!

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