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

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Physics


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 studied the relationship between the chemical structure and processing of conjugated polymer materials, especially block copolymers, and the electronic and optical properties of solar cells made from those materials. We also demonstrated how polymer solar cells could be fabricated by gravure printing.
Exploitation Route The use of gravure printing for organic solar cells is of particular relevance to industry as it represents a scaleable manufacturing technique. The results on the chemistry, physics and materials science of semiconducting polymer materials and the relationship with solar cell performance are relevant to other academic groups studying these materials.
Sectors Chemicals,Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description EPSRC
Amount £44,234 (GBP)
Funding ID Imperial Knowledge Transfer Secondment fund 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2014 
End 03/2015