Self-organized nanostructures in hybrid solar cells

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


Traditional mainstream inorganic semiconductor technology has been remarkably successful. However, standard fabrication techniques of microelectronic devices and components rely on a layer-by-layer assembly process and fall short of delivering three dimensional control of device architecture. Naturally-occurring complex systems utilize self-organising three dimensional architectures to deliver functionality beyond the properties of the individual components. To generate highly structured inorganic materials nature usually employs organic templates. Coordinating between inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, material science and semiconductor physics is one of the opportunities within nanotechnology. This area of multidisciplinary research provides the tools to fabricate three dimensional architectures which promise to deliver novel functionality to material composites. One of the most significant and pressing challenges to face society today is to generate clean renewable power, in order to sustain economic growth and to reduce our negative impact upon the environment. Highly structured material composites with large interfacial surface area between dissimilar components are of particular importance in energy storage and generation, such as batteries, photovoltaics and fuel cells. There is significant current interest in structures ideal for the photovoltaic response due to the potential exploitation as solar cells. The challenge is in fabricating material composites which absorb sufficient sun light, generate charge effectively from the absorbed light, which for organic and hybrid (organic-inorganic) composites requires a large interfacial surface area, and have efficient charge collection pathways to an external circuit, the latter competing with charge recombination. Here, self-organising molecular materials, and specifically di-block co-polymers as templates for inorganic semiconductor architectures will be developed and integrated into prototype low-cost hybrid photovoltaic systems. Specific objectives within this First Grant Project are to develop novel photovoltaic systems which out perform the current state-of-the-art and to greatly enhance our understanding of the physics occurring within nanostructured composites and at the interface between hard and soft semiconductors.


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Description Realised a new "gyroid" structure for mesoprous TiO2 which enabled improved control of the 3D porous structure, while enabling ideal interconnectivity of the semiconducting network.
Exploitation Route useful for the general field working on mesoporous materials
Sectors Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description The findings were responsible for spinning out Oxford PV originally based on solid-state dye sensitized solar cells
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Energy
Impact Types Economic

Description Oxford PV 
Organisation Oxford Photovoltaics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have made cells and materials and supplied them to Oxford PV for characterisation and/or further material deposition.
Collaborator Contribution Oxford PV have supplied some Silicon PV cells upon which to coat the perovskite cells for the all perovskite tandem cells. They have also deposited ITO conducting oxide upon our cells to complete our devices. In addition they have allowed access to other characterisation facilities including optical microscope and x-ray diffraction analysis.
Impact One of the main outcomes is that Oxford PV has raised in the region of £30M external investment, with the technology based on technology originally conceived in Oxford University. The company has benefited from continuing fundamental advancements of the technology, driven from our university lab. we are now working closely together on this project and will collaboratively deliver record efficiency solar cells.
Start Year 2016
Company Name Oxford PV ltd 
Description technology company developing perovskite solar cells. The company's business plan is to develop the IP and know how to manufacture perovskite solar cells, and partner with existing PV manufacturers (primarily Si PV industry) for large scale manufacturing 
Year Established 2010 
Impact Raised ~ £20M of investment in 3 rounds. Hold strong fundamental patent portfolio for perovskite solar cells, making them the key player in this technology.
Description Various Radio Interviews 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Radio Interviews for BBC world service and news reports
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017