Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Low-priced plastic photovoltaics

Date:
October 22, 2013
Source:
American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Summary:
Photovoltaic devices offer a green -- and potentially unlimited -- alternative to fossil fuel use. So why haven’t solar technologies been more widely adopted? Quite simply, they’re too expensive. Researchers have now come up with a technology that might help bring the prices down.

This is an image of the polymer blend morphology without (left) and with (right) nanowires.
Credit: Imperial College/S. Wood & J. Bailey

Photovoltaic devices, which tap the power of the sun and convert it to electricity, offer a green -- and potentially unlimited -- alternative to fossil fuel use. So why haven't solar technologies been more widely adopted?

Related Articles


Quite simply, "they're too expensive," says Ji-Seon Kim, a senior lecturer in experimental solid-state physics at Imperial College London, who, along with her colleagues, has come up with a technology that might help bring the prices down.

The scientists describe their new approach to making cheaper, more efficient solar panels in a paper in The Journal of Chemical Physics, produced by AIP Publishing.

"To collect a lot of sunlight you need to cover a large area in solar panels, which is very expensive for traditional inorganic -- usually silicon -- photovoltaics," explains Kim. The high costs arise because traditional panels must be made from high purity crystals that require high temperatures and vacuum conditions to manufacture.

A cheaper solution is to construct the photovoltaic devices out of organic compounds -- building what are essentially plastic solar cells. Organic semiconducting materials, and especially polymers, can be dissolved to make an ink and then simply "printed" in a very thin layer, some 100 billionths of a meter thick, over a large area. "Covering a large area in plastic is much cheaper than covering it in silicon, and as a result the cost per Watt of electricity-generating capacity has the potential to be much lower," she says.

One major difficulty with doing this, however, is controlling the arrangement of polymer molecules within the thin layer. In their paper, Kim and colleagues describe a new method for exerting such control. "We have developed an advanced structural probe technique to determine the molecular packing of two different polymers when they are mixed together," she says. By manipulating how the molecules of the two different polymers pack together, Kim and her colleagues created ordered pathways -- or "nanowires" -- along which electrical charges can more easily travel. This enables the solar cell to produce more electrical current, she said.

"Our work highlights the importance of the precise arrangement of polymer molecules in a polymer solar cell for it to work efficiently," says Kim, who expects polymer solar cells to reach the commercial market within 5 to 10 years.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics (AIP). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sebastian Wood, Jong Soo Kim, David T. James, Wing C. Tsoi, Craig E. Murphy, Ji-Seon Kim. Understanding the relationship between molecular order and charge transport properties in conjugated polymer based organic blend photovoltaic devices. The Journal of Chemical Physics, 2013; 139 (6): 064901 DOI: 10.1063/1.4816706

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics (AIP). "Low-priced plastic photovoltaics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131022113410.htm>.
American Institute of Physics (AIP). (2013, October 22). Low-priced plastic photovoltaics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131022113410.htm
American Institute of Physics (AIP). "Low-priced plastic photovoltaics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131022113410.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

AFP (Feb. 27, 2015) More than 200 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall in Afghanistan. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Storm Means Dangerous Driving in South

Winter Storm Means Dangerous Driving in South

AP (Feb. 26, 2015) A new winter storm is stretching across the south, making travel treacherous throughout the region. (Feb. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New York City Surrounded by Ice Floes

New York City Surrounded by Ice Floes

AP (Feb. 25, 2015) The freezing temperatures that have plagued much of the eastern U.S. haven&apos;t spared New York City. The waterways around the island of Manhattan are filled with ice. (Feb. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Widespread Flooding in Northern Bolivia

Raw: Widespread Flooding in Northern Bolivia

AP (Feb. 25, 2015) Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia surveyed severe flood damage in the northern province of Pando, as people were evacuated from partially submerged houses by boat. (Feb. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins