Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Clean Power

Inner Workings of Solar Cell: New Insight into How Solvent Mixtures Affect the Structure of Organic Solar Cells

 
By controlling how the ‘mixing’ occurs between acceptor and donor layers (solar cell domains) in polymer-based solar cells, efficiency could be greatly boosted, says new research from a team that includes physicists from North Carolina State University.

20121005-141343.jpg

This new research has given some insight into the most inner workings of these polymer-based solar cells, potentially leading to other future increases in efficiency.

In polymer-based solar cells, there are two domains, the acceptor, and the donor layers. The energy particles that are created by solar cells, excitons, need to be able to move quickly to the “interface of the donor and acceptor domains” for them to be used as an energy source.

It had been previously believed among researchers that making the “donor and acceptor layers as pure as possible was the best way to ensure that the excitons could travel unimpeded,” assuming that in this way solar cells would capture the most energy that they could.


 
But in the new research it was discovered that some mixing occurring between the two domains was not at all a negative thing. “In fact, if the morphology, or structure, of the mixed domains is small, the solar cell can still be quite efficient.”

North Carolina State physicist Harald Ade says: “We had previously found that the domains in these solar cells weren’t pure. So we looked at how additives affected the production of these cells. When you manufacture the cell, the relative rate of evaporation of the solvents and additives determines how the active layer forms and the donor and acceptor mix. Ideally, you want the solvent to evaporate slowly enough so that the materials have time to separate — otherwise the layers ‘gum up’ and lower the cell’s efficiency. We utilized an additive that slowed evaporation. This controlled the mixing and domain size of the active layer, and the portions that mixed were small.”

These mixed layers ended up having very good efficiency, leading to some thoughts that maybe allowing some mixing of the two layers wasn’t a problem, as long as the domains are small.

“We’re looking for the perfect mix here, both in terms of the solvents and additives we might use in order to manufacture polymer-based solar cells, and in terms of the physical mixing of the domains and how that may affect efficiency,” Ade says.

The findings are being published this month in two different journals, Advanced Energy Materials and Advanced Materials.

Source: North Carolina State University
Image Credit: Brian Collins, copyright Wiley

 
 
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
 

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Advertisement
 
Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

Comments

You May Also Like

Batteries

Cutting global heating emissions relies in huge part on electrifying transport. Electrifying transport relies on massively scaling up mining & processing of a handful...

Clean Power

Yesterday, Governor Roy Cooper spoke at the North Carolina Medium- and Heavy-Duty (MHD) Electric Vehicle State Policy Bootcamp to highlight how crucial electrifying MHD...

Clean Power

NET Power is developing a new process for capturing carbon emissions from a natural gas generating station.

Clean Transport

In the future, the high demand for EV charging is something that will need to be addressed. Despite more and more EV charging stations...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.