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Home > Press > IMEC’s spray-coating technique holds promise for cheap fully solution-processed organic solar cells

Figure 1 - (a) Schematic build-up of the organic solar cell, (b) SEM and (c) FIB/TEM cross sections of the polymer solar cell with a spray coated Ag top contact.
Figure 1 - (a) Schematic build-up of the organic solar cell, (b) SEM and (c) FIB/TEM cross sections of the polymer solar cell with a spray coated Ag top contact.

Abstract:
IMEC has demonstrated a fully solution-processed organic solar cell with a spray-coated active layer and a metal top contact spray-coated on top. The resulting cell shows power conversion efficiencies above 3%, a performance comparable to organic solar cells produced by spin coating of the organic layer and vacuum evaporation of the top contact metal. This is an important step towards producing organic solar cells with cheap and large-area processes.

IMEC’s spray-coating technique holds promise for cheap fully solution-processed organic solar cells

Leuven, Belgium | Posted on October 7th, 2009

Polymer-based (organic) solar cells hold the promise of low-cost production and a high throughput. However, this can only become true if all the layers of the cells can be deposited by solution-based, in-line compatible methods. IMEC's research now shows that spray-coating is a suitable deposition technique, and that it can be used to deposit all layers, including the metal top contact.

Spray-coating is a high-rate, large-area deposition technique that ensures an ideal coating on a variety of surfaces with different morphologies and topographies. It is frequently used for industrial coating and in-line deposition processes. In spray-coating systems, the ink is atomized at the nozzle by pressure or ultrasound and then directed toward the substrate by a gas. An added advantage of spray-coating is that it is efficient: compared to other techniques only a small amount of the solutions are wasted.

IMEC demonstrated that an active layer - a solution of P3HT and PCBM - deposited with spray-coating shows power conversion efficiencies above 3%, a performance which is comparable to that of spin-coated devices. And for the metal top contact, IMEC spray-coated a solution with silver nanoparticles. The challenges are to do this without dissolving the underlying layer, and without damaging it by the temperature needed to sinter the silver nanoparticles. IMEC demonstrated that spray-coating greatly reduces the damage to underlying layers compared to other techniques. It was also able to sinter the silver nanoparticles at 150°C, a temperature that is compatible with processing on flexible substrates.

Tom Aernouts, Teamleader Organic Photovolatics at IMEC: "R&D on organic solar cells has entered the stage where we can consider low-cost high-volume manufacturing, which is essential for the uptake of this technology by the industry. Our results show that IMEC has the expertise and knowhow to play an important role in organic photovoltaics R&D."

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About IMEC
IMEC performs world-leading research in nanotechnology. IMEC leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its industrial partners. In ICT, healthcare and energy, IMEC delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, IMEC’s international top talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society.

IMEC is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China and Japan. Its staff of more than 1,650 people include over 550 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2008, IMEC's revenue (P&L) was 270 million euro.

IMEC is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a "stichting van openbaar nut"), IMEC in Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), stichting IMEC Nederland (IMEC-NL) and IMEC Taiwan Co. (IMEC-TW).

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
IMEC: Katrien Marent
Director of External Communications
T: +32 16 28 18 80
M: +32 474 30 28 66


Barbara Kalkis
Maestro Marketing & PR
T: +1 408 996 9975

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