Cost-Effective Polymer Photovoltaics for Enhanced Solar Cell Energy

Solar energy offers the promise of clean, renewable energy, but has been limited by the unfeasible costs of traditional silicon-based solar cells. A new method for making thin film polymer photovoltaics provides a significant advancement into efficient, cost-effective solar cell technology.

Invention Summary

Researchers at Wake Forest University have developed a new method for thermally annealing thin film polymer photovoltaics from traditional components, which is significantly more efficient than products of similar cost. Thermal annealing at temperatures approaching the glass transition temperatures created ordered nanodomains of 1-(3-methoxycarbonyl) propyl-1-phenyl-(6,6)C61 (PCBM) incorporated into poly(3-hexylthiophene)  bulk heterojunction absorbing layers. This resulted in an efficiency of 6% and improved carrier mobility for the matrix, which makes it a useful method for constructing thicker films and greater overall photoabsorption.

Benefits

  • Significantly greater energy conversion efficiency (6%) compared to other products of similar cost
  • Low manufacturing costs compared to traditional silicon-based solar cells
  • Mechanically flexible and multifaceted
  • Increased carrier mobility allows for construction of thicker films, resulting in greater photoabsorption

Application Fields

  • Novel method for thermal annealing promises to maximize efficiency of thin film polymer photovoltaics

Status

  • Proof-of-concept photovoltaic devices have been created that demonstrate increased efficiency

Inventor

  • David L. Carroll, PhD

Patents

U.S. Patent EP2378581 B1
U.S. Patent US20110041895 A1

Publications

Reyes-Reyes, et al. High-efficiency photovoltaic devices based on annealed poly(3-hexylthiophene) and 1-(3-methoxycarbonyl)-propyl-1- phenyl-(6,6)C61 blends. Appl. Phys. Lett. 2005, 87, 083506

Kim, et al. Roles of donor and acceptor nanodomains in 6% efficient thermally annealed polymer photovoltaics. Appl. Phys. Lett. 2007, 90, 163511

Reyes-Reyes, et al. Meso-structure formation for enhanced organic photovoltaic cells.  Org. Lett.2005, 7(26), 5749-5752.

Licensing Contact

Charlie Shaw, PhD
chshaw@wakehealth.edu

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