Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Solar cell degradation observed directly for the first time

Date:
December 9, 2013
Source:
Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Summary:
Researchers have, for the first time, watched organic solar cells degrade in real time. This work could open new approaches to increasing the stability of this highly promising type of solar cell.

Schematic representation of the internal structure of the active layer of the polymer solar cell: The orange areas represent the active domains, where light is absorbed and charge carriers are released.
Credit: Illustration: TU München

With the help of DESY's X-ray light source PETRA III, researchers of Technische Universität München have, for the first time, watched organic solar cells degrade in real time. This work could open new approaches to increasing the stability of this highly promising type of solar cell. The team headed by Prof. Peter Müller-Buschbaum from the Technische Universität München (Technical University of Munich) present their observations in this week's issue of the scientific journal Advanced Materials.

Related Articles


Organic solar cells, especially those based on polymers are inexpensive to produce on a large scale. Thanks to their physical flexibility, they can open up new applications of photovoltaics not possible today. Moreover, they can convert light into electricity at an efficiency of more than ten per cent and could contribute significantly to a large-scale power supply based on renewable sources. However, the efficiency of organic cells still rapidly declines and they have a shorter service life than conventional silicon cells.

At the P03 measuring station of DESY's light source PETRA III, scientists have made the first live observations of the degradation of organic solar cells in operation. To do this, they lit a sample polymer solar cell using a solar simulator, which emits light that matches the spectrum and intensity of sunlight and recorded the electrical characteristics of the cell over time. At intervals ranging from several minutes to as much as one hour, the researchers also looked inside the solar cell using the sharply focused X-ray beam from PETRA III. In this way they were able to watch how the interior structure of the active layer of the solar cell changed in the course of seven hours, while the efficiency of the cell decreased by around 25 per cent.

Electricity is generated in the active layer at what is known as active domains in these solar cells. Here, light is absorbed and charge carriers are released. The diameter of these active domains increased by 17 per cent during the study, from about 70 to more than 80 nanometres (millionths of a millimeter). At the same time, the mean distance between them increased by 19 per cent from 310 nanometres to around 370 nanometres, as the X-ray measurements showed.

"This suggests that during operation small sites disappear permanently in favour of larger ones," explains first author Christoph Schaffer, who is a PhD student in Müller-Buschbaum's group. "Although the domains grow, they also recede from each other, this means that their total active area shrinks. This can precisely explain the observed decline in efficiency."

"The examination explained the mechanism of degradation for the first time. It's a first step," says co-author Dr. Stephan Roth, the DESY scientist with responsibility for measuring station P03. "The next step involves attempting to reduce or control this growth in a targeted manner, for example, through the addition of appropriate substances. Polymer solar cells could conceivably be produced with an internal structure in which the active sites grow to their optimal size during the first hours of operation," adds Müller-Buschbaum. "The consequence of such measures could be that industrially produced cells finally cross the economically crucial efficiency threshold also for long-term operation," emphasises Roth.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christoph J. Schaffer, Claudia M. Palumbiny, Martin A. Niedermeier, Christian Jendrzejewski, Gonzalo Santoro, Stephan V. Roth, Peter Müller-Buschbaum. A Direct Evidence of Morphological Degradation on a Nanometer Scale in Polymer Solar Cells. Advanced Materials, 2013; 25 (46): 6760 DOI: 10.1002/adma.201302854

Cite This Page:

Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY. "Solar cell degradation observed directly for the first time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131209105342.htm>.
Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY. (2013, December 9). Solar cell degradation observed directly for the first time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131209105342.htm
Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY. "Solar cell degradation observed directly for the first time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131209105342.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — A tech company in Spain have combined technology with cuisine to develop the 'Foodini', a 3D printer designed to print the perfect cookie for Santa. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Etihad Superjumbo Flight in December

First Etihad Superjumbo Flight in December

AFP (Dec. 18, 2014) — The first flight of Etihad Airways' long-awaited Airbus A380 superjumbo will take place later in December, the Abu Dhabi carrier said Thursday, also announcing its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner route. Duration: 01:09 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Ford Expands Air Bag Recall Nationwide

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — The automaker added 447,000 vehicles to its recall list, bringing the total to more than 502,000. Video provided by Newsy
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

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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