The solar power industry is hard at work (we think, based on neat things they all keep telling us) improving, refining, and redefining solar technology. This week, Molecular Solar Ltd informs us that they’ve got what they describe as a “significant breakthrough in the performance of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells.” They’ve managed a record voltage output in organic PVs, which more or less means that yes, you can power your electronic devices with solar cells.
Since organic PVs are highly flexible and fairly low-cost, they can easily be integrated into a number of consumer electronics (think smartphone, laptop, perhaps iPod?). The limiting factor – until now – has been the low voltage output.
Molecular Solar, a spin-out from the University of Warwick, reports that it has developed organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells with open-circuit voltages in excess of 4 volts – which they believe is a record for an OPV device.
Yes, but what exactly did they say?
Dr Ross Hatton, Research Director of Molecular Solar, commented:
“This is an important advance. We are now very close to having highly flexible organic photovoltaic cells that will be capable of delivering electrical energy at a voltage suitable for recharging lithium ion batteries that are widely used in portable consumer electronics. Remarkably, this high voltage is achieved using a cell with only 4 junctions (sub-cells)’’.
University of Warwick researcher Professor Tim Jones, Chief Technology Officer of Molecular Solar, added:
“The first generation of organic photovoltaics will be exceptionally well matched to consumer electronics applications. The advantage of Molecular Solar’s high voltage cells is that a single cell can be used with no requirement to connect multiple cells in series for these applications, saving manufacturing cost. ’’
And When Do We Get The Goods?
There’s no definite schedule yet for commercialization of Molecular Solar’s new OPVs. The company is currently finalizing an investment round to complete up-scaling of the new technology. Personally, I’m hoping to get solar cells powering my laptop.
What portable electronics would you want to see powered by solar energy? Let us know in the comments below.