Swapping tellurium for sulfur improves light absorption in organic solar cells

February 6, 2015
Tellurium-containing polymer-based solar cells can absorb light across an exceptionally broad spectrum and have the potential to enhance power conversion efficiencies.

The investigation of light absorbing organic semiconductors is important for the development of lightweight flexible solar cells. Replacing sulfur atoms in commonly used, polymer-based solar cells with tellurium atoms results in materials that absorb a wider range of wavelengths of sunlight. A tellurophene-containing low-bandgap polymer (PDPPTe2T) was synthesized by microwave-assisted palladium-catalyzed ipso-arylative polymerization of 2,5-bis[(α-hydroxy-α,α-diphenyl)methyl]tellurophene with a diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP) monomer.

This work has demonstrated that solar cells constructed from such polymers can convert sunlight into electrical current with an efficiency of 4.4% at wavelengths up to 1.0 microns. This result is a benchmark for tellurium-based polymer solar cells. Density functional theory calculations (DFT) suggest that the switch from sulfur to tellurium shifts the absorption spectrum toward longer wavelengths in the solar spectrum.

These are the first reported composed of such tellurium-based polymers. As well, these polymers absorb light across a broad range of wavelengths from ultraviolet to infrared, generating electricity at > 4% efficiency.

Explore further: Breakthrough for carbon nanotube solar cells

More information: "Polymerization of Tellurophene Derivatives by Microwave-Assisted Palladium-Catalyzed ipso-Arylative Polymerization." Angewandte Chemie International Edition 53 10691-10695 (2014). DOI: 10.1002/anie.201406068

Related Stories

Breakthrough for carbon nanotube solar cells

September 3, 2014

Lighter, more flexible, and cheaper than conventional solar-cell materials, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have long shown promise for photovoltaics. But research stalled when CNTs proved to be inefficient, converting far less sunlight ...

Demystifying nanocrystal solar cells

January 28, 2015

ETH researchers have developed a comprehensive model to explain how electrons flow inside new types of solar cells made of tiny crystals. The model allows for a better understanding of such cells and may help to increase ...

Future solar panels

September 2, 2014

Conventional photovoltaic technology uses large, heavy, opaque, dark silicon panels, but this could soon change. The IK4-Ikerlan research centre is working with the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country within the X10D ...

Light propagation in solar cells made visible

December 5, 2014

How can light which has been captured in a solar cell be examined in experiments? Jülich scientists have succeeded in looking directly at light propagation within a solar cell by using a trick. The photovoltaics researchers ...

Recommended for you

Atomic blasting creates new devices to measure nanoparticles

December 14, 2017

Like sandblasting at the nanometer scale, focused beams of ions ablate hard materials to form intricate three-dimensional patterns. The beams can create tiny features in the lateral dimensions—length and width, but to create ...

Engineers create plants that glow

December 13, 2017

Imagine that instead of switching on a lamp when it gets dark, you could read by the light of a glowing plant on your desk.

Faster, more accurate cancer detection using nanoparticles

December 12, 2017

Using light-emitting nanoparticles, Rutgers University-New Brunswick scientists have invented a highly effective method to detect tiny tumors and track their spread, potentially leading to earlier cancer detection and more ...


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.