Self-assembled organic photovoltaic materials

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Chemistry


The development of renewable energy sources is an urgent problem and so large that many technologies will contribute. Solar photovoltaics can be expected to play a major role because of the abundance of solar energy, and the convenience of electricity as an energy source, but at present they contribute only a tiny fraction of the world's energy supply (e.g. ca. 0.1% in the US, according to the US Institute for Energy Research). The major reason for the very limited uptake is that current solar cells are much more expensive than generating power from fossil fuels. Organic semiconductors have the potential to solve this problem by providing a route to much lower cost solar cells. Organic semiconductors are pi-conjugated molecules and polymers, that can be processed from solution via low cost/high volume deposition techniques such as spin-coating, roll-to-roll processing and ink-jet and screen printing. This means that they can be used to make flexible thin film devices that are lightweight and portable.

We propose to develop new organic solar cell materials building on our promising initial results from novel cross-shaped molecules. The proposed materials have well-defined structures that pack together efficiently, giving improved charge transport. The key idea is to control this packing of materials so that they will "self-assemble" into the desired arrangement for efficient solar cells. To achieve this we will bring together teams of physicists and chemists and collaborate with leading groups at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Imperial College London.
Description This award has allowed us to understand how self assembly controls device parameters and morphology of bulk heterojunction solar cells. Engineering self-assembly motifs into solar cell donor an acceptor materials can have a profound affect on the solubility and the processibility of the materials. We have shown that hydrogen bonding plays a small role in modulating the power conversion efficiencies, mainly by modulating the morphology of the assemblies. Suparmolecular additives are a more promising approach and have given rise to assemblies with enhanced power conversion efficiencies and greater stability.
Exploitation Route Our papers have been cited in the literature
Sectors Chemicals,Construction,Energy

Description In addition to the influence of the publications, a HGSP Scottish Enterprise grant was awarded to the Skabara group that aimed at developing a non-acidic formulation of PEDOT-PSS, which would prolong the lifetime of solar cell devices, including those from this project. This is reported under linked grant EP/L012200/1.
Sector Electronics
Title An investigation of the role acceptor side chains play in the processibility and efficiency of organic solar cells fabricated from small molecular donors featuring 3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene cores. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Description Organised a solar energy conference in Scotlnd for academics, policy makers and industrialists 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact To show the importance of solar power in Scotland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description new outreach activity in shetland will commence in September 2017. I have ccordinated school visits to encourage partcipation in the school's outreach activity and will promote the impornance of solar energy in remote locations using material prepared by SISER. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Meeting with several schools in Shetland to discuss outreach activities coordinated by the university of Glasgow
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description orkney international science festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A general lecture focusing upon solar energy was given to a mixed audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014