The aim of the project is to develop solar cells using organic materials. The general goal is the determination of both the materials and the device structures that are the best suited for photovoltaic application. An important point is the overall efficiency of solar energy conversion and a particular attention is to be paid to the stability of the device.
From the results of the project, technological routes of potential industrial interest for fabrication of organic solar cells will be defined. Technical approach
Technical interest for organic semiconductors is motivated by recent significant advances. In particular, Japanese laboratories have published break-through photovoltaic conversion efficiencies of several per cent in multi-layer devices fabricated under ultra-high vacuum conditions.
Economically, for low consumption devices, photovoltaic energy appears far less expensive than any remote electric-network connection. A reduction of photovoltaic energy cost with respect to amorphous silicon devices may boost the market.
Our approach consists of a comparative evaluation of two competing technologies : solution deposition of polymers and vacuum deposition of low molecular-weight materials.
Scientific objectives are the development of an insight into the physics of the device specific to the photovoltaic application, the identification of the overall efficiency as well as stability-limiting processes during all steps of photocurrent and photovoltage generation, the correlation to chemical and physical structure as molecular engineering rules. Technical objectives are the fabrication of stable solar cell devices operating with typically 4% efficiency as a proof of principle to assess the interest in pursuing organic materials further, towards improved device fabrication procedures. The industrial feasibility of organic solar cells will be assessed by demonstrating their specific advantages from the fabrication and from the end user points of view.
Expected Achievements and Exploitation
The major consequence of the realisation of organic photovoltaic devices is cost reduction : for industrial-scale produced raw organic materials, but also for fabrication, especially in the case of solution processing which is well adapted to large surfaces. Other important consequences are : reduction of the weight of photovoltaic cells, possibility to produce flexible devices, involvement of environmentally safe, and possibly low-temperature, technologies.
Technological routes of potential industrial interest for the fabrication of organic solar cells will be defined. At this stage, industrial partners will be introduced in the partnership as industrial manufacturers and as end users. In view of the demonstrated specific advantages of organic solar cells, appropriate commercial strategies will be elaborated, including large-scale photovoltaic systems, but also small ultra low-cost electronic devices for which energy autonomy is required.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
S3 7RH Sheffield