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 Move over, Superman! NIST method sees through concrete to detect early-stage corrosion
27.04.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Control of molecular motion by metal-plated 3-D printed plastic pieces
27.04.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How Plants Form Their Sugar Transport Routes

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Protein 'spy' gains new abilities

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers unravel the social network of immune cells

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>