German researchers are developing a new generation of solar cells to improve the energy conversion efficiency. A bunch of promising researchers from the Light Technology Institute of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are the pioneers of this new project. The project is supposed to be finished in four years as it is the deal now which aims to improve the efficiency of organic solar cells to more than 10 percent. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has already granted funding of EUR 4.25 million.
Dr. Alexander Colsmann will lead the team. Organic solar cells are also known as plastic solar cells. These cells are light, flexible, semi-transparent and production cost is low than traditional silicon-based solar cells. Organic solar cells are fabricated by low-cost printing and coating processes such as gravure printing, screen printing, slot-die coating, and spray coating. Another advantage is that these cells can be used for architectural design in the buildings which will eventually help to produce energy & also can be used for beautification of the outdoor structure as well as windows, automotive or consumer sectors.
The main drawback is that the efficiency rate is not high for the organic cells as per the existing manufacturing process. Dr. Colsmann and his team will work extensively on this to develop the whole process so that energy conversion rate can be increased and they are confident with their propsed initial plan. They will use tandem architecture where two solar cells with complementary absorption characteristics are stacked directly on top of each other so that sunlight consumption can be increased.
According to KIT Press release,
Still, organic solar cells exhibit moderate power conversion efficien-cies only. For them to be able to compete with established inorganic solar cells, extensive research is required. The early career scientists in the team of Dr. Alexander Colsmann, KIT, use so-called tandem architectures. Two solar cells with complementary absorption characteristics are stacked directly on top of each other to achieve better sunlight harvesting and more efficient energy conversion. The KIT scientists use novel materials, develop innovative device architectures, optimize their stability, and test the solar cells in a real-life environment. Moreover, they transfer man-ufacturing processes from the laboratory to an industry-compatible production environment in order promote future commercial use of their results. “The funding of EUR 4.25 million granted by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) reflects the quality of our work,” Colsmann says. He heads the Organic Photovoltaics Group at the Light Technology Institute of KIT.
Photo Credit: Andreas Pütz via KIT