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

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
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%.

Publications

10 25 50

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Kettle J (2011) Optimisation of PCPDTBT solar cells using polymer synthesis with Suzuki coupling in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells

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Lidster BJ (2014) Monotelechelic poly(p-phenylenevinylene)s by ring opening metathesis polymerisation. in Chemical communications (Cambridge, England)

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Lidster BJ (2016) Alkyl substituted [2.2]paracyclophane-1,9-dienes. in Organic & biomolecular chemistry

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Spring AM (2009) MEH-PPV by microwave assisted ring-opening metathesis polymerisation. in Chemical communications (Cambridge, England)

 
Description Widespread implementation of photovoltaic electricity to meet changing energy demands requires a step-change in the cost of photovoltaic power. This project assembled a consortium of chemists, physicists and materials scientists from Imperial College London and the universities of Manchester, Sheffield and Durham to investigate new prototype polymer solar cells that have high power conversion efficiencies and that could be mass produced cost effectively. We studied new polymer solar cell designs that integrate flexible substrates with solution based processing. In one approach, copolymers of donor and acceptor blocks were synthesized and used to direct formation of nanostructured thin films. The influence of the block copolymer properties on thin film morphology and the electrooptical/charge generation processes were examined. Theoretical modelling was used to determine the optimal 3D morphology for photovoltaic cells derived from phase separated polymer blends. The project examined ink-jet and gravure printing strategies for high throughput solar cell production.
Exploitation Route Synthetic methods developed by programme are now being used to make new materials for organic photovoltaic cells. The printing processes developed are being applied to new materials and also new device structures.
Sectors Chemicals,Energy

URL http://www.functionalmaterials.manchester.ac.uk
 
Description Beyond the citation of the academic publications and the take up of the methodologies disclosed by academic researchers. The impact of the project has been to demonstrate the utility of gravure and spray coating of materials to fabricate OPV devices. These techniques are now being applied for the large area deposition of active materials and interface layers by researchers and industry.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Chemicals,Creative Economy,Education,Energy
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing
Amount £529,957 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K03099X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2013 
End 09/2018
 
Description CDT collaboration 
Organisation Cambridge Display Technology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have worked with CDT on a range of projects utilising the outputs of the research, the exact details are confidential
Collaborator Contribution CDT have supplied materials and evaluated materials as part of this collaboration
Impact Multidiscplinary: Chemistry, Physics, Material Science
Start Year 2012
 
Description Y. Tezuka collaboration 
Organisation Tokyo Institute of Technology
Department Department of Organic and Polymer Materials
Country Japan 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Student exchanges and research visits, supply of materials
Collaborator Contribution Student exchanges and research visits, characterisation of materials
Impact Chemistry Polymer science Physics
Start Year 2009