Researchers achieve highest certified efficiency of organic solar cells to date

November 07, 2018 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Materials scientists at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) report a new record in the performance of organic, non-fullerene-based single stack solar cells. Through optimization, together with partners from the South China University of Technology (SCUT), they achieved a certified energy efficiency of 12.25 percent on an area of one square centimeter. This standardized area forms the preliminary stage for prototype production.

Organic solar cells usually consist of two layers of semiconductors - one acts as a donor, the other as an acceptor. In contrast to conventional silicon, which is produced using a great deal of energy, the polymer layers can be transferred from a solution directly onto a carrier film. On the one hand, this means comparatively low production costs and, on the other hand, the flexible modules can be used more versatilely in urban areas than silicon cells. For a long time, fullerenes, carbon-based nanoballs, were regarded as ideal acceptors, but the intrinsic losses in fullerene-based composites limit the efficiency potential too much. The FAU has therefore made a paradigm shift: Together with their Chinese partners, the scientists found a new organic molecule that absorbs more light than fullerenes; in addition, it is very durable.

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