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European project to develop low-cost solar cells

Posted: 26 Aug 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:organic solar cells  thin-film dye-sensitised  low-cost solutions 

A new European project called MOLESOL has been set up to fabricate low-cost, high-efficiency and stable solar cells. The envisaged solar cell will be a hybrid device that consists of dye monolayers that are linked through an organic molecular wire to a semiconducting thin film deposited on a transparent substrate.

The MOLESOL project comes with a solar cell concept that aims to combine the advantages of two existing low-cost solutionsorganic solar cells and thin-film dye-sensitised solar cells.

Organic solar cells have to demonstrate long-term stability and power conversion efficiencies above 10 per cent in order to be competitive with Si and copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) technologies. The highest power conversion efficiency for an organic solar cell based on a bulk heterojunction device with PCBM and low-band gap conjugated polymers is 8.3 per cent, but this system is reaching its limit. Dye-sensitised solar cells are said to be a promising cost-effective alternative, reaching efficiencies above 11 per cent. These thin-film solar cells are based on a semiconductor formed between a photosensitised anode and an electrolyte. But problems with the stability of the electrolyte raise great concerns.

molecular wire solar cell

Proposed concept of the molecular wire solar cell.

The solar cell will consist of a dye coupled through an organic molecular wire to a conductive electrode. In practice, the ITO electrode currently used in dye-sensitised solar cells will be replaced by a transparent wide-bandgap p-type semiconductor (graphene or diamond). In addition, a highly efficient molecular-wire charge platform will be developed, that will make use of short, optimised molecular wires that couple the dye onto the semiconducting surface.

In this EU FP7 programme, Imec/Imomec is involved in the development of an efficient molecular wire platform (collection layer, molecular dyes and molecular wire couplings). Imec is also the coordinator of this 3-year project started in October 2010. Other project partners are Solarprint Limited, Ireland; Ustav Fyzikalni Chemie J. Heyrovskeho AV CR, V.V.I., Czech Republic; Greatcell Solar SA, Switzerland; Max Planck Gesellschaft Zur Foerderung der Wissenschaften E.V., Germany; Linkopings Universiteit, Sweden; Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland and National University of Singapore, Singapore.





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