Issue Date: January 28, 2013
Supersized Polymer Solar Cells
Organic solar cells made from inexpensive polymers and Earth-abundant materials hold the promise of capturing solar power in a low-cost and environmentally friendly way. But the standard methods by which organic solar cells are manufactured are onerous. Peter Sommer-Larsen, Frederik C. Krebs, and coworkers at Technical University of Denmark have demonstrated a large-scale method to print polymer solar cells that overcomes common limitations such as multiple manufacturing and assembly steps and poor device performance. By using a rapid, continuous roll-to-roll printing technique, the team made an exceptionally long string (roughly 260 feet) of 16,000 polymer solar cells connected in series (Energy Technol. Commun., DOI: 10.1002/ente.201200055). Tests show that the multilayer device, which is free of indium tin oxide, an expensive electrode material commonly used in organic electronic devices, produced a stable output voltage of 8.2 kV. That value exceeds by far the hundreds of volts of standard photovoltaic modules and is key to maximizing the flow of current.
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