Excellent video by Blake Farrow using a abundant materials… from powdered donuts with passion tea. Find the video here.
Thanks go to Jens for the link!
P.S. Juan had this already last month: sorry for being late;-)
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:-)
Today I found a new blog (only a few days old) on hybrid and organic photovoltaics by Juan Bisquert, Professor for Applied Physics in Castelló de la Plana, Spain. I know him as author of interesting papers, a recent one being the review-like article on a rather fundamental view on diffusion and its different interpretations in disordered materials [Bisquert 2008]. Also, allow me the unrelated remark (personal interest, so to say;) that his university seems to be just within a wine region, similar to my home of choice.
As fellow blogger with common interest:
I am looking forward to reading your posts.
Update 20.2.2009: At the same time, another new blog from the same university started; same topic, different style.
Disordered organic materials inhibit charge carrier mobilities which are orders of magnitude lower than for inorganic crystals. First thing missing in disordered matter is the regularly ordered lattice of atoms, where the charge carriers can delocalise, leading to band transport. Second thing is the generally lower interaction between adjacent molecules, which is due to weaker bonding and larger distances. The transfer integral, the value of which goes exponentially down with distance, to get from one to the other molecule is too low for delocalisation. Thus, in terms of charge carrier mobility, think 10-2cm2/Vs for disordered organics (if you are lucky) vs. at least 102cm2/Vs for ordered inorganics.
How much does a weak charge transport limit the performance of organic solar cells? How bad is it?
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.
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;-)
I just came across this press release from the before-mentioned organic solar cell company Konarka. I 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.
Technology 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.
Thanks to Henning for the link.
As you might already have guessed, I am interested in loss mechanisms in organic photovoltaics. Despite considering the impact of recombination on the solar cell performance, also the physical origins are challenging… and many open questions remain.
Just a view days ago, there was another publication about recombination of free polarons (free carriers) – also called nongeminate recombination *1 – more specifically, trimolecular recombination. You might remember that, a while ago, I already mentioned third order recombination, including a reference to private communications with Prof. Juska and another recent paper by the Durrant group [Shuttle 2008]) as well as a potential candidate for its origin. The new paper [Juska 2008] uses three different experimental methods, including photo-CELIV, to measure the temperature dependence of the trimolecular recombination rate in polymer:fullerene solar cell. The authors mention very briefly a possible mechanism responsible for the third order recombination, Auger processes. Shuttle et al. argue in their paper that a bimolecular recombination with a carrier concentration dependent prefactor could be the origin, in particular as they observe a decay law proportional to n2.5-n3.5, depending on the sample. We are also in the game, an accepted APL awaiting its publication (preprint here) Update 20.10.2008: now published online [Deibel 2008b]. We rather tend to believe the explanation by Shuttle, but that’s just an assumption at the present stage: the generally low recombination rate could also be due to a rather improbable process.
Continuing my recent history of only brief notes (sorry, busy…) here a short headline from the SPIE Optics and Photonics Conference in San Diego.
Today I heard a talk by Darin Laird, Plextronics. Using an undisclosed organic donor material (well, they call their product Plexcore OS 2000 [Update below], as opposed to their P3HT OS 1000 or so) blended with the usual suspect PCBM, they managed to process an NREL certified lab scale (0.1cm2) solar cell with 5.94% power conversion efficiency! Fill factor was almost 72%, I believe, with the major improvement as compared to the reference material P3HT coming from an increased open-circuit voltage.
The corresponding solar cell module, 15×15 cm2 large, has an efficiency of 1.1% (or 2.3% active area efficiency, if you consider that only 46% of the module are active area). These numbers are brand new, but generally, uptodate solar cell efficiencies can be found in the efficiency tables (V32) by Martin Green.
So, who’s next to boost the organic solar cell efficiencies? ;-)
P.S. As there sadly was a history of overestimated efficiencies published, followed by letters to the editors by watchful scientists and statements, a solar cell characterised by a certified institute is important to regain the trust.
P.P.S. Of course, not every university group can afford to spend 1000 bucks on a certified solar cell measurement. Still, at least some effort can be put into doing the current-voltage characterisations carefully. In January, Jan Kroon gave an interesting talk about measuring organic solar cells properly; find the video here.
Update (5.9.2008): The donor Plexcore OS 2100 available at Sigma Aldrich is not the one with which the 5.9% efficiency where achieved. The undisclosed donor material used is not yet available commercially, it seems.