Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simple, cheap way to increase solar cell efficiency

Date:
January 3, 2014
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Researchers have found an easy way to modify the molecular structure of a polymer commonly used in solar cells. Their modification can increase solar cell efficiency by more than 30 percent.

Side chain modification improves solar cell efficiency from 5.6% to 7.5%.
Credit: Image courtesy of North Carolina State University

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found an easy way to modify the molecular structure of a polymer commonly used in solar cells. Their modification can increase solar cell efficiency by more than 30 percent.

Polymer-based solar cells have two domains, consisting of an electron acceptor and an electron donor material. Excitons are the energy particles created by solar cells when light is absorbed. In order to be harnessed effectively as an energy source, excitons must be able to travel quickly to the interface of the donor and acceptor domains and retain as much of the light's energy as possible.

One way to increase solar cell efficiency is to adjust the difference between the highest occupied molecular orbit (HOMO) of the acceptor and lowest unoccupied molecular orbit (LUMO) levels of the polymer so that the exciton can be harvested with minimal loss. One of the most common ways to accomplish this is by adding a fluorine atom to the polymer's molecular backbone, a difficult, multi-step process that can increase the solar cell's performance, but has considerable material fabrication costs.

A team of chemists led by Jianhui Hou from the Chinese Academy of Sciences created a polymer known as PBT-OP from two commercially available monomers and one easily synthesized monomer. Wei Ma, a post-doctoral physics researcher from NC State and corresponding author on a paper describing the research, conducted the X-ray analysis of the polymer's structure and the donor:acceptor morphology.

PBT-OP was not only easier to make than other commonly used polymers, but a simple manipulation of its chemical structure gave it a lower HOMO level than had been seen in other polymers with the same molecular backbone. PBT-OP showed an open circuit voltage (the voltage available from a solar cell) value of 0.78 volts, a 36 percent increase over the ~ 0.6 volt average from similar polymers.

According to NC State physicist and co-author Harald Ade, the team's approach has several advantages. "The possible drawback in changing the molecular structure of these materials is that you may enhance one aspect of the solar cell but inadvertently create unintended consequences in devices that defeat the initial intent," he says. "In this case, we have found a chemically easy way to change the electronic structure and enhance device efficiency by capturing a lager fraction of the light's energy, without changing the material's ability to absorb, create and transport energy."

The researchers' findings appear in Advanced Materials. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Science and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. Dr. Maojie Zhang synthesized the polymers; Xia Guo,Shaoqing Zhang and Lijun Huo from the Chinese Academy of Sciences also contributed to the work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maojie Zhang, Xia Guo, Wei Ma, Shaoqing Zhang, Lijun Huo, Harald Ade, Jianhui Hou. An Easy and Effective Method to Modulate Molecular Energy Level of the Polymer Based on Benzodithiophene for the Application in Polymer Solar Cells. Advanced Materials, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/adma.201304631

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Simple, cheap way to increase solar cell efficiency." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140103204504.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2014, January 3). Simple, cheap way to increase solar cell efficiency. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140103204504.htm
North Carolina State University. "Simple, cheap way to increase solar cell efficiency." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140103204504.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) 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:
from the past week

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