Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Looking deeply into polymer solar cells

3D Electron tomography image of a polymer-metal oxide solar cell. The 3D nanoscopic morphology shows the interpenetrating metal oxide network in (yellow) inside a polymer matrix (black).
3D Electron tomography image of a polymer-metal oxide solar cell. The 3D nanoscopic morphology shows the interpenetrating metal oxide network in (yellow) inside a polymer matrix (black).

Abstract:
Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) have made the first high-resolution 3D images of the inside of a polymer solar cell. This gives them important new insights in the nanoscale structure of a polymer solar cell and the effect on its performance.

Looking deeply into polymer solar cells

Eindhoven, The Netherlands | Posted on September 15th, 2009

The research was a joint effort of TU/e-researchers and colleagues at the University of Ulm, Germany. The findings were published online in Nature Materials on Sunday 13 September. The investigations shed new light on the operational principles of polymer solar cells. This is expected to be very important for the development of better polymer solar cells.

Cost-effective, flexible and lightweight
Polymer solar cells do not have the high efficiencies of their silicon counterparts yet. Polymer cells, however, can be printed in roll-to-roll processes, at very high speeds, which makes the technology potentially very cost-effective. Added to that, polymer cells are flexible and lightweight, and therefore suitable to be used on vehicles or clothing or to be incorporated in the design of objects.

Hybrid polymer solar cells
In these hybrid solar cells, a mixture of two different materials, a polymer and a metal oxide are used to create charges at their interface when the mixture is illuminated by the sun. The degree of mixing of the two materials is essential for its efficiency. Intimate mixing enhances the area of the interface where charges are formed but at the same time obstructs charge transport because it leads to long and winding roads for the charges to travel. Larger domains do exactly the opposite. The vastly different chemical nature of polymers and metal oxides generally makes it very difficult to control the nanoscale structure. The Eindhoven researchers have been able to largely circumvent this problem by using a precursor compound that mixes with the polymer and is only converted into the metal oxide after it is incorporated in the photoactive layer. This allows better mixing and enables extracting up to 50% of the absorbed photons as charges in an external circuit.

Nanoscale mixing
The importance of the degree of mixing was clearly demonstrated by visualization of the structure of these blends in three dimensions. Traditionally such visualization has been extremely challenging, but by using 3D electron tomography, the team has been able to resolve the mixing with unprecedented detail on a nanoscale. From these images the researchers at the Institute of Stochastics in Ulm have been able to extract typical distances between the two components, relating to the efficiency of charge generation, and analyze the percolation pathways, that is, how much of each component is connected to the electrode. These quantitative analyses of the structure matched perfectly with the observed performance of the solar cells in sunlight.

Future
Even though these hybrid polymer solar cells are among the most efficient reported to date for this class, their power conversion efficiency of 2% in sunlight must be enhanced to make them really useful. This will be realized by improving the control over the morphology of the photoactive blend, for example by creating polymers that can interact with the metal oxide and by developing polymers or molecules that absorb a larger part of the solar spectrum. At such point, the intrinsic advantages of hybrid polymer solar cells in terms of low cost and thermal stability of the nanoscale structure could be fully exploited.

Publication
The publication "The effect of three-dimensional morphology on the efficiency of hybrid polymer solar cells", by Stefan Oosterhout et al. can be found at DOI 10.1038/NMAT2533.

The research was conducted at the Eindhoven University of Technology and the University of Ulm. It was funded by the Joint Solar Programme of FOM, NWO, and the Shell Research Foundation, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SenterNovem, and the Dutch Polymer Institute.

####

About Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) intends to be a research driven, design oriented university of technology at an international level, with the primary objective of providing young people with an academic education within the ‘engineering science & technology’ domain.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Den Dolech 2
P.O Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven
tel: 31(0)40-247 9111
fax: 31(0)40-245 6087

Copyright © Technische Universiteit Eindhoven

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

onic Present breakthrough in CMOS-based Transceivers for mm-Wave Radar Systems March 1st, 2015

Graphene Shows Promise In Eradication Of Stem Cancer Cells March 1st, 2015

Novel Method to Determine Optical Purity of Drug Components March 1st, 2015

Scientific breakthrough in rechargeable batteries: Researchers from Singapore and Québec Team Up to Develop Next-Generation Materials to Power Electronic Devices and Electric Vehicles February 28th, 2015

Thin films

Researchers enable solar cells to use more sunlight February 25th, 2015

Detecting defects at the nanoscale will profit solar panel production: Researcher Mohamed Elrawemi develops new technologies for defects in thin films, vital in products as printed electronics and solar panels February 24th, 2015

Extreme-temperature electronics: Futuristic material molybdenum disulfide may find new application for thin-film transistors in extremely high-temperature electronics and sensors February 11th, 2015

Dance of the nanovortices February 2nd, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life: Berkeley Lab research provides comprehensive description of ultra-small bacteria February 28th, 2015

Warming up the world of superconductors: Clusters of aluminum metal atoms become superconductive at surprisingly high temperatures February 25th, 2015

SUNY Poly CNSE Researchers and Corporate Partners to Present Forty Papers at Globally Recognized Lithography Conference: SUNY Poly CNSE Research Group Awarded Both ‘Best Research Paper’ and ‘Best Research Poster’ at SPIE Advanced Lithography 2015 forum February 25th, 2015

European roadmap for graphene science and technology published February 25th, 2015

Announcements

onic Present breakthrough in CMOS-based Transceivers for mm-Wave Radar Systems March 1st, 2015

Graphene Shows Promise In Eradication Of Stem Cancer Cells March 1st, 2015

Novel Method to Determine Optical Purity of Drug Components March 1st, 2015

Scientific breakthrough in rechargeable batteries: Researchers from Singapore and Québec Team Up to Develop Next-Generation Materials to Power Electronic Devices and Electric Vehicles February 28th, 2015

Energy

In quest for better lithium-air batteries, chemists boost carbon's stability: Nanoparticle coatings improve stability, cyclability of '3DOm' carbon February 25th, 2015

New nanowire structure absorbs light efficiently: Dual-type nanowire arrays can be used in applications such as LEDs and solar cells February 25th, 2015

Learning by eye: Silicon micro-funnels increase the efficiency of solar cells February 25th, 2015

Magnetic nanoparticles enhance performance of solar cells X-ray study points the way to higher energy yields February 25th, 2015

Solar/Photovoltaic

New nanowire structure absorbs light efficiently: Dual-type nanowire arrays can be used in applications such as LEDs and solar cells February 25th, 2015

Learning by eye: Silicon micro-funnels increase the efficiency of solar cells February 25th, 2015

Magnetic nanoparticles enhance performance of solar cells X-ray study points the way to higher energy yields February 25th, 2015

Researchers enable solar cells to use more sunlight February 25th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE