Solar cell collaboration

01 September 2008

Jef Poortmans, Programme Director Solar at IMEC
Jef Poortmans, Programme Director Solar at IMEC

Reproducible organic solar cells are set for further development thanks to a collaboration between IMEC and Plextronics.

Nanoelectronics research institute IMEC, and Plextronics, a company specialising in printed solar, lighting and other organic electronics, have signed an agreement to collaborate on modern materials and inks for organic solar cells.

With this arrangement, IMEC aims to develop a reproducible process for high-efficiency organic solar cells using Plextronics’ Plexcore branded materials and inks, which have demonstrated efficiencies as high as 5.9%, according to tests at the NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) in Colorado.

IMEC’s goal is to develop organic multi-junction solar cells with 10% efficiency by 2012. The company also plans to achieve a large-area industrial manufacturing technology with an average efficiency of 7% (+/- 0.5%) and solar cell lifetime of five years.

In order to achieve these objectives, high-quality, highly reproducible commercial materials are required, so IMEC will investigate Plexcore OS; a regio-regular poly-3-hexylthiophene (P3HT) polymer with a high absorption co-efficient close to the maximum photon flux in the solar spectrum. Plexcore OS materials will be processed using spin coating and validated on film morphology, carrier mobility and reproducibility. Solar cells will be processed on different substrates using spin-coated films of the material. Future research is said to include evaluation of other Plexcore materials and inks, using deposition techniques such as screen and inkjet printing, and spray coating on large-area substrates.

“Plextronics’ materials look promising for high-efficiency reproducible organic solar cells,” said Jef Poortmans, Programme Director Solar at IMEC. “With their focus on materials, inks, and process technology for organic solar cells, we expect that our work with Plextronics will help accelerate our optimisation and development of an industrial large-area process,” he added.

Plextronics’ CEO Andy Hannah stated that this collaboration with IMEC is an important one for the company. “Our focus is on enabling OPV commercialisation with new inks and technology, and partnering with organisations like IMEC that have processing and device expertise is vital to that goal,” said Hannah.

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