Organic Solar Cells

July 1st, 2018

An organic solar cell uses organic electronics, a branch of electronics that deals with electrically conductive organic polymers or small organic molecules, for light absorption, charge production, and transport to produce electricity from sunlight by the photovoltaic effect. Most organic photovoltaic cells are polymer solar cells.

An organic solar cell employs electrically conductive organic polymers and small molecules to absorb light and transport the resulting charge, converting it into usable electricity.  Materials used in organic solar cells are solution-processable at high throughput, along with being cheap to produce.  As such, this solar technology is potentially cost-effective for photovoltaic applications.

Compared to conventional silicon solar cells, organic solar cells are thin, lightweight, flexible, semi-transparent.  This means they can be applied in situations that silicon solar panels cannot be used in.  For example, they can be laminated onto windows, integrated into window treatments like blinds and curtains, and even built into tents for recreational or emergency use!  On the other hand, there are drawbacks to this polymer solar technology.  They offer approximately one third of the efficiency of hard materials, along with susceptibility to photochemical degradation resulting into reduced longevity and durability.

The potential for low cost, high throughput manufacturing of organic solar cells, combined with the need for increased power conversion efficiency and stability, have made them a popular field in solar cell research.  In recent years, the record organic solar cell efficiency has reached over 16%, making these cells a genuinely commercially relevant technology.