New mixed solar cells with increased energy efficiency and electricity generation

The ITIC is selectively located at the interface of the PTzBT and PCBM domains, which results in the creation of an efficient (photocurrent) load carrier. Credit: Itaru Osaka, University of Hiroshima

Researchers at the University of Hiroshima in Japan have combined several polymers and semiconductor molecules as photo-absorbers to create a solar cell with higher energy efficiency and high electricity generation. These types of solar cells, known as organic photovoltaics (OPVs), are devices that produce light when light is generated on photovoltaics. The efficiency of a solar cell is determined by how much electricity is generated and compared to the light above the cell. This is called the “photon harvest,” or how much light particles are converted into electric current. The more efficient a solar cell is, the more efficient and pragmatic the cell is for commercial use.

The team at the Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering added only a small number of compounds that absorb long wavelengths of light, resulting in an OPV that was 1.5 times more effective than the non-compound version. The compound was able to improve the absorption intensity due to the optical interference effect of the device. The team continued to show how the key is distributed to improve efficiency to generate more energy.

Simulated absorption distribution of OPV cells

(a) ~ 100 nm thick, (b) ~ 400 nm thick. The ITIC has three “absorption points” when the semiconductor layer (PTzBT / PCBM / ITIC) is thick when only the thin layer. This results in better optical interference. Credit: Itaru Osaka, University of Hiroshima

“Adding a very small amount of sensitizing material composed of a semiconductor polymer that we have previously developed with other materials to an OPV cell,” said Itaru Osaka, author of the article, published in November 2020 Macromolecules.

“This leads to a significant increase in photocurrent and thus power conversion efficiency due to the amplified photon absorption generated by the optical interference effect. The key is to use a very precise polymer that allows a very thick semiconductor layer for OPV cells. compared to a thin one “.

Photoresponse Spectra OPV Cells

ITIC demonstrated as a sensitizer an external quantum efficiency similar to the host PTzBT polymer, although only 6wt of the ITIC was added to the PTzBT / PCBM host materials. Credit: Itaru Osaka, University of Hiroshima

As for future work, Osaka aims to transcend the state of the art of solar cells.

“Our next step is to develop better semiconductor polymers as hosts for this type of OPV and as better sensitizing materials that can absorb more photons in wavelength regions. This would lead to greater efficiency in OPV cells in the world.”

Reference: Masahiko Saito, Yasunari Tamai, Hiroyuki Ichikawa, Hiroyuki Yoshida, Daisuke Yokoyama, Hideo Ohkita and Itaru Osaka November 25, 2020, Macromolecules.
DOI: 10.1021 / acs.macromol.0c01787

Funding: Japan Science and Technology Agency, Japan Science Promotion Association

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