Journal: Advanced Materials
Affiliations: 4Go to article
Fun and fullerene-free solar cells
© David Trood/DigitalVision/Getty
A new material could make solar cells more efficient and cheaper to build.
Photovoltaic cells convert visible light into electricity but the complex materials involved make them are expensive to assemble. Fullerene has been widely used to carry electrical charge, but is costly to process and absorbs a limited range of light wavelengths.
A team led by researchers from Sichuan University in China have developed a new fullerene-free ‘small molecular acceptor’. In solar cells, this crucial component takes electrons from the ‘donor’ material, which converts the incoming photons (light particles) to electrons, and carries them to the electrodes. The team wrapped electron-deficient organic molecules — ready-to-absorb electrons from the donor — around a core of spirobifluorene, a semiconducting polymer that eases the flow of electrons. They mixed this with a popular donor material in a photovoltaic cell and exposed it to a xenon lamp. The device converted 10.26 per cent of light energy to electricity, demonstrating the potential to create more efficient fullerene-free solar cells.
- Advanced Materials 29, 1606054 (2017). doi: 10.1002/adma.201606054