Development of Prototype High Efficiency Multi-Junction Organic Solar Cells

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Materials


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 researchers 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 aplications such as the built environment, transport and consumer electronics, and (iv) the societal need to accelerate adoption of new solar technologies. The Imperial group engages very strongly with the UK and international nanomaterials community through the London Centre for Nanotechnology and links to Nanotechnology Labs (e.g. Oak Ridge, Brookhaven). DJR is a member of the EPSRC funded Excitonic Solar Cell" Supergen Consortium which involves collaboration with researchers in Cambridge, Imperial, Bath, Edinburgh, Oxford, Loughborough and Bristol. Our regular interactions with researchers from these and other institutions means that results from the project will be made available to the wider academic community thus benefiting the very significant global effort into the development of solar technologies in general.


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Description Established conditions for the formation of ZnO on organic molecular films during electrodeposition and the window for stability of various compounds.
Determination of optical space optimization for device efficiency improvements
Partner (KL) development of large scale organic deposition unit.
Exploitation Route KL will commercialize the large scale deposition
Electrodeposition on to organics has potential in a range of energy materials systems
Sectors Chemicals,Energy

Description University of Warwick (Co-I on grant) 
Organisation University of Warwick
Department Systems and Information Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Development of new techniques for deposition, study effect of H2O on stability of the materials used by collaborators for device
Collaborator Contribution Academic Partner in the programme. Preparation of samples/ devices. Understanding of device properties Led directly to further work on templated materials
Impact Journal publications (co-I Jones)
Start Year 2011
Description Diamond User Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation on Interface Characterisation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description Gordon Research Conference, USA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited Presentation related to in situ synchrotron work
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016