Polymer solar cell

Solar Cells

Solar energy will be one of the major energy sources in a future sustainable, fossil-free society due to the fact that the Sun is a free and abundant source of energy. At the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage we primarily do research on solar cells made of polymers. Compared to traditional silicon solar cells, the manufacture of such cells requires fewer resources and much less energy. Furthermore, the production of polymer solar cells uses upscalable and cheap roll-to-roll processes known from the printing industry.

A polymer solar cell consists of a series of thin functional layers deposited on a polymer foil. By employing inks containing the active materials, one can use standard printing technology to deposit a layer very fast on an entire roll. Such roll-to-roll processes allow upscaling of the production to very large scale with a limited capital cost.

For polymer solar cells to become commercially competitive a number of improvements are needed, in particular in relation to their conversion efficiency and their durability. This is the focus of our research and development which span all the way from basic research, through implementation of advanced device structures such as tandem solar cells to development of industrial processes. We design and synthesize new materials, we characterize them in detail, we develop the methods to implement the materials in roll-to-roll manufacturing, and finally we test complete solar cells and panels.

We have a growing activity on novel high-efficiency solar cell types, including so-called perovskite and kesterite solar cells.

Current research topics include:

  • Materials development, in particular synthesis strategies, for polymer solar cells
  • Environmentally friendly (water-based) processing technologies
  • Improving operational lifetime by novel encapsulation strategies
  • In-situ characterization of polymer solar cells during printing, using X-ray scattering
  • Materials and processing for perovskite and kesterite cells, as well as characterization by high-resolution X-ray ptychography

Polymer solar cell array

Hængekøje med solcelleoversejl ved Smuk Fest. Copyright: Alexandra Instituttet og Infinit

See the innovative uses for flexible plastic solar cells such as beautiful curtains, solar sails for a festival hammock and an energy source to the mobile solar-powered cinema The Sun Cinema at Imperial Festival in London.