Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Radical solar technology to harvest energy for the 21st century

Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) represent a transformative technology with great potential for harvesting solar energy. An EU initiative sought to optimise OPV technology that converts solar energy to electrical energy.
Radical solar technology to harvest energy for the 21st century
OPVs offer several advantages ranging from rapid, low-cost manufacturing to extremely thin, lightweight and flexible form factors. They have the potential to provide electricity at a lower cost than existing solar technologies. They present opportunities for revolutionary advances in the acceptance and deployment of solar energy. However, their performance must be improved before they can be viable for commercial applications.

With this in mind, the EU-funded ESTABLIS (Ensuring stability in organic solar cells) project set out to establish an interdisciplinary research and training network aimed at developing materials and methods for cheap, flexible organic solar cells (OSCs) with 10-year lifetimes.

To improve understanding of OPV and its lifetimes, ESTABLIS hired 11 doctoral and 4 postdoctoral researchers. The researchers received training in a broad range of fields, from synthetic organic chemistry to polymer science and from industrial-scale photovoltaic device manufacture to career development.

The fellows attended in numerous workshops, meetings and talks, and participated in outreach activities. About 1 200 students benefitted from outreach actions, learning how OSCs work. Research activities resulted in 5 patents and 23 published papers. More papers are in preparation.

Several notable discoveries were made. These include novel low band gap polymers, polymers that incorporate fullerene into the main-chain, methods to stabilise active layer morphologies that are key to providing long-term stable devices, in-situ tests for inter-layer adhesions, and a complete, multi-scale correlation between real and artificial ageing processes for OPVs.

ESTABLIS delivered strong, flexible and low-cost OPV devices using industry-accepted solvents and large-scale cells with 10-year lifetimes. This should lead to large-scale applications with a long shelf life that can be mass produced.

Related information

Keywords

Organic photovoltaics, ESTABLIS, organic solar cells
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