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By finding out how pure and large the acceptor domain is and what the interface of the donor domain looks like, efficiency can be increased

Berkeley Lab scientists have measured various aspects of an organic solar cell for the first time, successfully increasing efficiency with this knowledge.

The study, which was conducted by an international team of scientists at Berkeley Lab and led by Harald Ade, is the first to successfully map the size and purity of domains in organic solar cells to increase their performance.

For photovoltaic devices to compete with fossil fuels for energy collection, they must convert sunlight to energy at a very efficient level. Solar cell conversion depends on excitons, which are electron pairs that are energized by sunlight. These excitons must get to the interface of the donor and acceptor domains as quickly as possible to avoid losing energy as heat.

The efficiency of polymer-based organic photovoltaic cells depends on the purity of the donor and acceptor domains. So by finding out how pure and large the acceptor domain is and what the interface of the donor domain looks like, efficiency can be increased.

To do this, the researchers used ALS beamlines, a Resonant Soft X-ray Scattering (R-SoXS) facility; 7.3.3, a Small- and Wide-Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS/WAXS/) end-station, and 5.3.2, an end-station for Scanning Transmission X-Ray Microscopy (STXM) at Berkeley Lab.

"The combination of these three ALS beamlines enabled us to obtain comprehensive pictures of polymer-based organic photovoltaic film morphology from the nano- to the meso-scales," said Brian Collins, the paper's co-author. "Until now, this information has been unattainable."

Using the ALS beamlines, the team studied the polymer/fullerence blend PTB7:PC71BM in thin films made from chlorobenzene solution. It did this with and without the addition of the solvent diiodooctane, and the films were composed of droplets in where the dominant acceptor domain size without the additive was about 177 nanometers.
Adding the solvent reduced the acceptor domain size down to about 34 nanometers while maintaining the film's composition and crystallinity.
The end result was an efficiency gain of 42 percent.

Source: Eurekalert

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By tng on 1/8/2013 4:09:39 PM , Rating: 2
The end result was an efficiency gain of 42 percent.
OK,the article states 42% in the headline, but here at the end, it makes it sound different.

Is this 42% efficiency overall or just a 42% gain from original? Both numbers are good, but for me this is confusing.

RE: ?
By Jedi2155 on 1/8/2013 4:29:54 PM , Rating: 2
As I understand it, current organic based PV is extremely inefficient at under <10%. The maximum achieved PV efficiency is done with multi-junction (being able to absorb multiple wavelengths) PV cells composed of a variety of crystalline materials, which has barely reached 44% with the power of a 1000 suns (that means its able to convert 440 suns worth of power).

RE: ?
By Shig on 1/8/2013 7:44:10 PM , Rating: 2
Organic solar cells are usually in the 6-8% range.

RE: ?
By Odysseus145 on 1/8/2013 8:15:48 PM , Rating: 2
10% is the commonly quoted efficiency to make large scale commercialization practical. Despite not being anywhere near as efficient as silicon (>20%), organic solar cell will be an order of magnitude easier and cheaper to make.

I expect 10% will be achieved within the next couple years or so.

RE: ?
By Azethoth on 1/8/2013 9:15:00 PM , Rating: 2
The math is simple: efficiency gained / increased 42%.
Efficiency was X, now it is X * 1.42
From above X usually ranges from 6-8%, so with the solvent and smaller size we could be looking at 9-12% roughly.

This would make a great word problem in a Math class!

RE: ?
By Silver2k7 on 1/9/2013 3:17:35 AM , Rating: 2
marketing bs in % is damn silly..

the topic should perhaps say
*new solar cells at 12% efficiency*
if that is the correct efficiency.

RE: ?
By Silver2k7 on 1/9/2013 3:19:21 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder if a big magnifying lens and something that converts heat into electricity would be better.. in say a desert.

RE: ?
By daboom06 on 1/9/2013 5:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
Where's your heat sink going to be? you'd have to run a refrigerator to draw the heat out of the carnot engine to make electricity. or run a heat pipe out of the desert? that seems impractical.

or you could use the atmosphere as the heat sink and the center of the earth as the heat source, which is already used by geothermal power plants.

forgive me if your comment was an inside joke or veiled sarcasm.

RE: ?
By Odysseus145 on 1/9/2013 8:44:10 PM , Rating: 2
Look up power towers. They concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a very small spot which heats a molten salt to run a boiler.

RE: ?
By johnsmith9875 on 1/10/2013 3:26:17 PM , Rating: 2
Power Towers look promising as they work in daytime and to a lesser degree at night. The trick is of course convincing the public that its not insane to build a skyscraper in the desert that holds no people.

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