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Date: 11-01-14

Easy-to-make-polymer researched for improving organic solar PV efficiency

Researchers are now trying hard to design non-silicon organic polymer based solar PV cell with higher efficiency, for the inherent advantages of flexibility, low cost, easy-to-manufacture over silicon and compound semiconductor solar PV.

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have modified the molecular structure of a polymer material used in solar PV cells to increase the power conversion efficiency by 30 percent.

A team of chemists led by Jianhui Hou from the Chinese Academy of Sciences created a polymer known as PBT-OP which is said as easier to make material compared to other commonly used polymers. PBT-OP's open circuit voltage is 0.78 volts, a 36 percent increase over the ~ 0.6 volt average from similar polymers.

According to North Carolina 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.”

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