The development and commercialization of more cost-effective photovoltaic cells has moved a significant step closer. That's because Imec, Polyera and Solvay, an international chemical group, have announced that they have achieved a new world-record efficiency of 8.3 percent for polymer-based single junction organic solar cells in an inverted device stack.
Gradually, solar energy is becoming cost-competitive with traditional mainstream energy sources, including coal and oil. Cost-competitiveness will be furthered by continued reduction of manufacturing and installation costs of solar panels. And thanks to the latest developments, organic solar cells will soon have the potential to be cheaply integrated into an array of consumer products.
A team of researchers at Imec and Solvay have created polymer-based solar cells that simultaneously optimize cell light management and increase device stability. Due to this architecture, they have been able to achieve a certified conversion efficiency of 8.3 per cent, the highest efficiency reported for inverted polymer cell architectures.
Additional improvements of efficiency and lifetime are required to bring the technology to market. However, this is seen as a significant development, as inverted device architectures offer a number of commercially-relevant advantages over standard architectures.
Reflecting on the landmark achievement, Tom Aernouts, Research and Development Team Leader Organic Photovoltaics at Imec, said: "These excellent results are the fruit of an intense collaboration between Solvay, imec and Polyera.
"It is remarkable to see how the inverted architecture adds to the performance of these cells. This shows how crucial the combination of high-level device technology and next-generation materials will be to bring organic solar cells to the market."
Furthermore, Patrick Francoisse, Sustainable Energy Platform Manager at the Innovation Center at Solvay, said that the firm is convinced that organic photovoltaic devices will play an essential role in the future. They will be easier and cheaper to produce, according to Mr Francoisse, who also observed that it will enable new applications.
Antonio Facchetti, Chief Technology Officer of Polyera, hailed the work done by the teams at Imec, Solvay and Polyera, explaining that they have demonstrated that with a combination of accurate control over semiconductor polymer chemistry and innovative cell architectures, "new efficiency milestones can be achieved".