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KIT's research to improve organic solar cell efficiency

Posted: 06 Jul 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:organic solar cells? improved efficiency? OPV cells?

A study that aims to improve the efficiency of organic solar cells has been launched by researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of technology (KIT). The research program hopes to improve the efficiency of organic solar cells by more than 10 percent.

Organic solar cells have become cheaper to produce than its traditional silicone based counterpart. These cells have also become lighter and flexible, allowing for more perspectives for the architectural design of buildings. Their only disadvantage these cells have is that the efficiency rate of OPV cells remains much lower than inorganic cells, demonstrating 15-20 percent efficient.

Led by Dr. Alexander Colsmann, the project utilizes tandem architectures. Two solar cells with complementary absorption characteristics are stacked directly on top of each other to achieve better sunlight harvesting and more efficient energy conversion.

The materials and methods KIT scientists utilized were novel materials, innovative device architectures and optimized stability. They also tested the solar cells in a real-life environment. With the findings of their research, the scientists hope to transfer manufacturing processes from the laboratory to an industry-compatible production environment so as to promote future commercial use of their results.

The project received an estimated $5.35 million funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It has also received the support of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP), Potsdam, and the University of Queensland/Australia, which supplies new materials for organic solar cells. Merck KGaA is the industry advisor of the project.

In a related study, Germany's Heliatek GmbH claimed it had pushed the record efficiency for organic solar cells higher, achieving an efficiency of 10.7 percent in a 1.1 square centimeter tandem cell. Measurements, led by independent test house SGS SA (Geneva Switzerland), showed that the cell improved efficiency under low light conditions and that the efficiency remains constant with temperature.

- Anne-Fran?oise Pele
??EETimes US

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