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Materials Engineering of Integrated Hybrid Spectral Converters for Next Generation Luminescent Solar Devices

Project description

Integrated hybrid spectral converters to boost photovoltaics efficiency

Solar energy conversion is a promising field whose full potential has not yet been realised. The shortcoming of single-junction photovoltaic (PV) cells is that they are unable to exploit the entire spectrum of wavelengths from sunlight without the addition of a spectral converter coating. Even so, existing coatings fall short in their effectiveness. The EU-funded SPECTRACON project aims to develop high-performance spectral converters from hybrid polymers that will be integrated with PV cells. The materials used will be inexpensive, allowing the large-scale manufacture and immediate distribution of solar devices on the market. The project's work will play an important role in achieving carbon neutrality.

Objective

Solar energy conversion will play a key role in our transition to a carbon-neutral society. However, single junction photovoltaic (PV) cells fail to achieve their theoretical efficiency due to an inability to harness all wavelengths of the solar spectrum. Spectral losses may be overcome through the addition of a spectral converter coating to the surface of a finished PV cell, which, through a photoluminescence process, converts solar photons into wavelengths suitable for use. Nonetheless, spectral converters currently fail to deliver their promise to significantly boost PV cell performance due to the difficulties of translating luminescent molecules (lumophores) from solution into efficient solid-state materials.

By considering the lumophore-host material as an integrated unit, rather than discrete components, in SPECTRACON, I take a radically new approach to the design of spectral converters. Organic-inorganic hybrid polymer hosts incorporating covalently-grafted lumophores will be rationally engineered to deliver spectral converters with the tailored optical, structural, viscoelastic and mechanical properties needed for high performance solid-state conversion, which has so far been unattainable. Using cheap materials and a solution-based process suitable for scalable manufacturing, these spectral converters will be integrated with PV cells to realise next generation luminescent solar devices which display record levels of efficiency and reduced costs.

A scientific breakthrough that demonstrates efficient solar spectral conversion in the solid-state would enable immediate deployment of luminescent solar devices to the commercial market, thus accelerating progress to an all-renewables society and delivering unprecedented impact on the quality of life of future generations. Moreover, the fundamental knowledge gleaned on the design of efficient solid-state emitters will open up new frontiers for application in light-emitting displays, optical storage and sensing.

Host institution

THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
Net EU contribution
€ 2 124 593,00
Address
TRINITY LANE THE OLD SCHOOLS
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom

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Region
East of England East Anglia Cambridgeshire CC
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
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Total cost
€ 2 124 593,00

Beneficiaries (1)