High-efficiency Block Copolymer Solar Cells: A Scaleable Prototype for Low Cost Energy Generation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

Widespread implementation of photovoltaic electricity to meet changing energy demands requires a step-change in the cost of photovoltaic power. This proposal assembles a consortium of chemists, physicists and materials scientists from Imperial College London and the universities of Manchester, Sheffield and Durham to produce new prototype polymer solar cells that have high power conversion efficiencies and could be mass produced cost effectively. We propose new polymer solar cell designs that integrate flexibility with inexpensive materials and solution based processing. In one approach, block copolymers are used to direct formation of nanostructured thin films to provide high efficiency polymer solar cells. In a second approach, block copolymers will be used to direct crystallisation within nanostructured films. Independent optimisation of the optical and electronic properties, together with theoretical modelling input, will provide design rules for maximising power conversion efficiency. The project will establish strategies for scaling up the device designs which have the highest efficiencies. Our objective is to construct affordable and scalable polymer solar cells that have an energy conversion efficiency of at least 7%.
 
Description We found out that it was very difficult to make a bock-copolymer material that phase-separated and also worked well as a photovoltaic semiconductor. The challenges were significant and these resulted from having to design differing electronic functionality into the different blocks for charge separation, with the different blocks also phase-separating on the right length-scale to create percolation paths. Basically, the work told us that this was a difficult route to create a PV material, and that it was much easier to work with separate components (polymers and fullerenes) and then process the films using thermal / solvent techniques to obtain high efficiency.
Exploitation Route The collaboration proved the business model of Ossila, and the company now continues to grow, employs almost 20 people and will soon be turning of £1M on an annual basis.
Sectors Chemicals,Electronics,Energy

 
Description The collaboration proved the business model of Ossila, and the company now continues to grow, employs almost 20 people and will soon be turning over £1M on an annual basis. Ossila was founded in 2009 by organic electronics research scientists with the aim of providing the components, equipment and materials to enable faster and smarter research and discovery. Five years on, and we're proud to supply our products to over 600 different institutions in over 57 countries across the world. Having spent many years both in industry and academia developing organic and thin film LEDs, photovoltaics and FETs, we know how long it takes to develop a reliable and efficient device fabrication and testing process. As such, we have developed packages of products and services to enable researchers to jump-start their organic electronics development program. Our research scientists have significant experience in the processing of materials into LEDs, PVs and FETs, and amongst our team of physicists, chemists and engineers we have a huge collection of knowledge on thin film electronics. The vision behind Ossila is to share this experience with both academic and industrial researchers and to make their research more efficient. By providing products and services that take the hard work out of the device fabrication process, and powerful equipment to enable accurate, rapid testing, we can free scientists to focus on what they do best - science.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Chemicals,Electronics,Energy
Impact Types Economic

 
Description EPSRC
Amount £967,004 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I028641/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description King Abdul Aziz University
Amount £559,712 (GBP)
Funding ID R/131358 
Organisation King Abdulaziz University 
Sector Academic/University
Country Saudi Arabia
Start  
 
Description King Abdul Aziz University
Amount £559,712 (GBP)
Funding ID R/131358 
Organisation King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences (KSAU-HS) 
Sector Academic/University
Country Saudi Arabia
Start