Some links collected over the last months.
I will be at the ISCPAC 2016 meeting next week. In case you are also there, meet up:-)
[2016-06-07 Some Updates in the afternoon;-)]
The US Department of Energy is to fund 46 so called Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) with 777 million dollars over the course of the next five years (see news here). Quite a commitment to basic research in times of a global economic crisis &ndash although the decision has been taken years before, with thematic workshops starting in 2003.
Some of the centers will focus on photovoltaic energy conversion, partly with a strong focus on organics!
- Center for Interface Science: Hybrid Solar-Electric Materials, University of Arizona (Director: Neil R. Armstrong)
- Center for Inverse Design, National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorada (Director: Alex Zunger)
- Center for Excitonics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Director: Marc Baldo)
- Polymer-Based Materials for Harvesting Solar Energy, University of Massachusetts (Director: Thomas Russell)
- Solar Energy Conversion in Complex Materials, University of Michigan (Director: Peter Green)
- Solar Fuels and Next Generation Photovoltaics, University of North Carolina (Director: Thomas Meyer)
- The Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics, Los Alamos National Laboratory (Director: Victor Klimov)
- Re-Defining Photovoltaic Efficiency Through Molecule-Scale Control, Columbia University (Director: James Yardley)
- Understanding Charge Separation and Transfer at Interfaces in Energy Materials and Devices, University of Texas (Director: Paul Barbara)
The list can be found here, and there are also details available.
Well, strong competition coming up for us European researchers… but what could be better for driving a field forward? ;-)
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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?
Continue reading “Mobility and Efficiency of Polymer Solar Cells”
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.
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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.
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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.
Read it here, or the corresponding Konarka press release.
Thanks to Henning for the link.
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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.
Continue reading “Trimolecular Recombination … really?”
Another brief note from the SPIE conference. Right now, the results of an organic photovoltaics lifetime workshop are being presented. Information and roadmap are summarised on a free wiki page.
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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.
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After the introductory posts about organic solar cells – split in parts zero, one and two, – I would like to present a somewhat more intuitive picture today… well, picture indeed says it all;-)
Step 1: Light Absorption => Exciton Generation
- light is absorbed in the donor material, e.g., a conjugated polymer
- excitons are thus created, strongly bound electron-hole pairs on the polymer chain
- very high absorption coefficient, device thickness on ~100nm scale, as compared to the inorganic polycrystalline semiconductor CuInSe2 (~1 micron) and crystalline Silicon (~100 micron)
- but: only narrow absorption bands, as shown for two conjugated polymers P3HT and PCPDTBT in comparison to CuInSe2. This drawback could be circumvented by synthesis of novel materials, or multijunction concepts (tandem solar cells).
Continue reading “Picture Story – How Do Organic Solar Cells Function?”