Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Future solar panels

03.09.2014

IK4-Ikerlan and the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country are exploring the limits of organic solar cells and how to manufacture more efficient cells

Conventional photovoltaic technology uses large, heavy, opaque, dark silicon panels, but this could soon change. The IK4-Ikerlan research centre is working within the X10D European project with new materials to produce solar panels in order to come up with alternatives to the current panels. What is needed to improve the functioning of cells with a large surface are materials that cost less to produce and offer greater energy efficiency.


Module -to which two cells have been connected in series- powering a toy

(Source: IK4-Ikerlan).

The solar panels we see tend to be rigid and black. Organic photovoltaic technology, by contrast, enables more translucent and more flexible solar panels in a range of colours to be manufactured. But this technology needs to meet certain requirements if it is to be accepted on the market: greater efficiency, longer duration and low production cost. So this research has set out "to analyse the capacity new materials have to absorb solar energy as well as to seek appropriate strategies to move from the lab to actual operations," pointed out Ikerne Etxebarria, a researcher of the UPV/EHU and IK4-Ikerlan.

The research team has analysed what the maximum size is for the cells, which must have a large surface area, if they are to work properly.  Various cells with different structures and surfaces have been designed for this purpose. Once the results had been analysed, "we found that in cells of up to approximately 6 cm2 the power was in direct proportion to their surface area. On larger surface areas, however, the performance of the cells falls considerably," stressed Etxebarria, who has reached the following conclusion: to be able to manufacture cells with a large surface area it is necessary to build  modules, to which cells with a smaller surface will be connected in series or in parallel, on the substrate itself. 

To manufacture these modules, the layers existing between the electrodes need to be structured, in other words, the cells have to be connected to each other. "Until now, that structuring has been done mechanically or by means of laser but with the risk of damaging the substrate. However, in this research we have developed a new automatic structuring technique," she pointed out. This technique involves transforming the features of the surface of the substrate.

Aim: to improve efficiency
Another of the aims of this research was to find a way of manufacturing highly efficient cells. To do this, the first step was to optimize the production process of cells based on different polymers, in order to achieve the maximum efficiency of these materials; secondly, polymers that absorb light at different wavelengths have been used to produce cells with a tandem structure in order to make them more efficient. "Each polymer absorbs light at a different wavelength. The ideal thing would be to take advantage of all the sun's rays, but there is no polymer capable of absorbing the light at all the wavelengths. So to be able to make the most efficient use of the sunlight, one of the possibilities is to build tandem-type structures, in other words, to fit the cells manufactured with different polymers one on top of the other," explained Etxebarria. These tandem-type structures can be connected in series or in parallel. "We have seen that after many measurements greater efficiency is achieved in the cells installed in series than in the ones fitted in parallel," added the researcher.

The production of cells manufactured using polymers or new materials will be much more cost-effective, since these polymers are produced in the laboratory, unlike silicon that has to be mined. Etxebarria works in the laboratory of IK4-Ikerlan trying out different polymers in the quest for suitable materials for manufacturing cells. "We try out (different) materials in small devices," she pointed out. Many materials of many types are in fact tried out and the most efficient ones are selected, in other words, those that capture the most solar energy and which make the most of it.

Additional information
Ikerne Etxebarria-Zubizarreta is a Doctor of Chemical Engineering. She works at the IK4-Ikerlan research centre. She submitted her PhD thesis entitled "Mini-Modules and Tandem Organic Solar Cells: Strategies to improve device efficiency" at the UPV/EHU and written up under the supervision of Iñigo López-Arbeloa, lecturer in the UPV/EHU's Department of Physical Chemistry, and Roberto Pacios-Castro, an IK4-Ikerlan researcher.

Matxalen Sotillo | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.ehu.es/p200-hmencont/en/contenidos/noticia/20140901_ikerne_etxebarria/en_etxebarr/20140901_ikerne_etxebarria.html

Further reports about: Organic electrodes layers manufacture materials solar panels structures technique wavelengths

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen
24.03.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

nachricht Researchers make flexible glass for tiny medical devices
24.03.2017 | Brigham Young University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrical 'switch' in brain's capillary network monitors activity and controls blood flow

27.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Clock stars: Astrocytes keep time for brain, behavior

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Sun's impact on climate change quantified for first time

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>