Development of Prototype High Efficiency Multi-Junction Organic Solar Cells

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Chemistry


Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) are an emerging third generation solar cell technology which offer the prospect of very low cost manufacture and the production of lightweight modules that utilise environmentally sustainable materials and processes. OPVs offer genuine medium to long term prospects for reducing the cost of photovoltaics (PVs) well below the commercially important threshold of $1 per watt (peak). In addition, the compatibility of OPVs with a wide range of substrates, including plastics and metals, means that new power applications can be addressed which are not easily met by existing first and second generation PV technologies. OPVs will therefore accelerate market penetration of PV technology as well as enabling new manfacturing and business opportunities within the UK. In this collaborative R@D project a consortia of industry and university groups will develop prototype OPV cells using our patented multi-junction cell technology. Nanostructured organic and inorganic materials will be incorporated into multi-junction cells which will then be optimised to demonstrate high performance characteristics (efficiency and stability) as well as compatibility with low cost, large area fabrication. A key objective of this project will be to incoporate new transparent conducting electrodes into the multi-junction cell technology, thus eliminating the requirement for indium tin oxide (ITO) and enabling the new technology to overcome one of the key obstacles to low cost manufacture. Prototype cells will be developed that demonstrate certified power conversion efficiencies of 8%, accelerated lifetimes equivalent to 3 years in the field, and active cell areas of 10 cm x 10 cm. These prototypes will demonstrate performance characteristics compatible with subsequent product manufacture and commercialisation. The industrial expertise in our consortia will focus our strategy for longer term product development in the automotive sector and building integration.

Planned Impact

This three year research and development project is a collaboration between several industrial companies and two universities. The overall aim is to develop prototype multi-junction organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells that demonstrate high efficiency, good operational stability and which are compatible with large area, low cost manufacture on a range of substrates (TRL 4-6). Certified prototype cells produced by the end of the project will demonstrate performance characteristics compatible with subsequent product manufacture and commercialisation (i.e. moving beyond TRL 6). Key additional outputs will be: (i) improved organic and inorganic materials for OPV applications; (ii) new low temperature processed transparent conducting electrodes (iii) new encapsulation technologies for improved operational stability; (iv) new organic thin film deposition and device fabrication technology; and (v) new nanoscale measurement techniques for understanding the operation of OPVs. The major impact of the work will therefore be: (i) Economic - the translation of research from the two universities to our industry partners, who will then be in a very strong position to exploit the scientific and technological breakthroughs. (ii) People - the researchers employed on the project will benefit considerably from the industry-university collaboration, learning new skills about project management, market analysis, and technology and product development strategy. (iii) Society - the development of a commercially attractive, low cost PV technology based on sustainable materials has the potential to help enable the UK (and the world) to move towards a low carbon society and address key societal issues such as energy security and climate change. (iv) Knowledge - the scientific and technological outputs from this project will be of interest to a large number of stakeholders across a range of application sectors interested in exploiting new materials, new fabrication equipment and new methods of nanoscale thin film analysis.
Academic Beneficiaries Proposal original proforma document
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Describe who will benefit from the research [up to 4000 chars].
Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) and more generally the area of solar energy harvesting is one of the most active areas of research within the academic community, both nationally and internationally. The main beneficiaries of this research will therefore be the many researchers worldwide who are interested in: (i) the synthesis, characterisation and development of new materials for OPV and related applications, (ii) experimental and theoretical studies of the operation and failure of OPV cells, (iii) the integration of improved and more robust cells into technologies that can be applied to applications such as the built environment, transport and consumer electronics, and (iv) the societal need to accelerate adoption of new solar technologies. The Warwick group engages very strongly with the UK and international community in this research area, e.g. (i) through its leadership of the EPSRC-funded "Excitonic Solar Cell" Supergen Consortium, which involves collaboration with researchers in Cambridge, Imperial, Bath, Edinburgh, Oxford, Loughborough and Bristol; and (ii) through an EPSRC-funded Platform Grant in "New Materials and Devices for Photovoltaic Applications", which involves collaboration and exchange with researchers at institution such as Boston University (USA), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (USA), the National University of Singapore (Singapore), Monash University (Australia) and Kookmin University (South Korea). Our regular interactions with researchers from these and other international institutions means that results from the project will be made available to the wider research community thus benefiting the very significant global effort into the development of OPVs and solar technologies in general.