Organic solar cells are a competitive and efficient alternative to standard silicon cells that are commonly used in photovoltaics. They are flexible, thin and translucent, and can easily be integrated into lighting installations and window glass. Recently the industry has been making huge strides in the printed photovoltaic cell technology.
WHAT ARE ORGANIC CELLS MADE OF?
Unlike silicon cells, organic solar cells are made out of semiconductor based polymers, referred to as fullerenes. These are small carbon molecules that are shaped like a football. By using fullerenes, the cells can be made more efficient. However, their durability also goes down, which means that they are no match to the existing technology which has an average lifespan of 30 years. The environmental stability of organic solar cells is not sufficient enough yet.
HOW HAVE THEIR PROPERTIES BEEN IMPROVED UPON?
Researchers have found an alternative to fullerenes. Compared with the other acceptors that are an essential element in photovoltaic cells, this molecule is in a class of its own when it comes to functionality. For instance, fullerene molecules can absorb only a small amount of light. On the other hand, this newly discovered molecule is capable of converting a large amount of light. The greater the quantity of absorbed sunlight, the higher the efficiency. This is a major breakthrough for the research community as they have been spending a lot of time looking for a viable fullerene alternative to reduce the cost of generating solar energy. This discovery is sure to give an edge to solar cells as a competitive alternative to fossil fuels. To determine the cost of producing energy from the sun, the researchers take into account all the costs that go into it.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?
In the published study, the researchers demonstrated the record efficiency and stability of their new polymer. The compound was shown to have higher air stability at temperatures all the way up to 140 degrees. The researchers expect to produce solar cells with an efficiency of more than ten percent using this material.
Another significant advantage to it is that the process which is use to print the organic solar cells is much less expensive. We no longer have to rely on costly semiconductor technologies. Photovoltaic cells consisting of really thin polymer substrates can be manufactured on a production line, where they will be printed and coated as well. Moreover, solar films can be manufactured in different colors. This will make it easier for architects to choose color combinations in their design. Even car manufacturers can install special organic solar cells in the glass roofs of vehicles. The chemical industry also has a whole range of possibilities when it comes to improving on their existing applications as well as developing new ones.
With fossil fuels being consumed at an alarming rate across the world, renewable energy, especially solar energy, is the way to go forward. Researchers have been focusing all their energies on making solar cells more efficient and this new material, with its improved optoelectronic and morphological properties has achieved efficiencies that were previously unheard of in fullerene-free devices. It remains to be seen as to how quickly future of printed photovoltaic cell technological applications adapt to it.
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