Morphology matters: The effect of processing on solar cells

October 19, 2011
Morphology matters: The effect of processing on solar cells

The dramatic influence of polymer processing conditions on the performance of polymer solar cells is highlighted by a new paper in the Journal of Polymer Science: Polymer Physics.

The study resolves some of the discrepancies found between from previously published studies and highlights that processing and molecular weight need to be carefully controlled to ensure maximum solar cell performance.

Teams led by Natalie Stingelin from Imperial College, London and Garry Rumbles from the National Renewable Energy Lab in Boulder, Colorado collaborated on the work to study the generation of in neat poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and how it depends on the polymer solid-state microstructure. They are able to control the morphology from stacked, non-entangled chains in low-molecular-weight P3HT through to mixed stacked and amorphous, entangled phases in samples with higher . The researchers find that it is easiest to separate charges when there are both crystalline and amorphous regions.

In previous studies on P3HT, other researchers have found yields of free charges appearing after photoexcitation can vary enormously between 1% and 15%; this work reveals that different polymer microstructures could account for that variation.

Explore further: Nanorods made of fullerenes improve performance of polymer solar cells

More information: Obadiah G. Reid, Jennifer A. Nekuda Malik, Gianluca Latini, Smita Dayal, Nikos Kopidakis, Carlos Silva, Natalie Stingelin, and Garry Rumbles, “The influence of solid-state microstructure on the origin and yield of long-lived photogenerated charge in neat semiconducting polymers”, J. Polym. Sci. Part B: Polym. Phys., 2011, DOI: 10.1002/polb.22379

Related Stories

SSRL Aids Development of Plastic Electronics

May 4, 2006

For close to a decade, researchers have been trying to improve the performance of plastic semiconductors to the level of amorphous silicon—the semiconductor used in low-cost electronics such as photovoltaic cells for solar ...

Looking deeply into polymer solar cells

September 13, 2009

Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology and the University of Ulm have made the first high-resolution 3D images of the inside of a polymer solar cell. This gives them important new insights in the nanoscale ...

New "Molecular Wires" Nanotechnology to Replace Silicon

August 23, 2004

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Florida have uncovered information that may help "molecular wires" replace silicon in micro-electronic circuits and/or components ...

Recommended for you

Self-sealing syringe prevents blood loss in hemophilic mice

October 28, 2016

(—For people whose blood does not clot appropriately, such as those with hemophilia, diabetes, or cancer, getting an injection or blood draw with a hypodermic needle is not a trivial matter. Because the needle ...

A composite thread that varies in rigidity

October 27, 2016

EPFL scientists have developed a new type of composite thread that varies in stiffness depending on its temperature. Applications range from multifunctional robots to knitted casts, and even tunable medical devices.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.