These excellent performance results represent a crucial step towards successful commercialization of organic photovoltaic cells.
Solar power is gradually becoming cost-competitive with traditional mainstream energy sources such as coal, oil, and nuclear. Continued reduction of manufacturing and installation costs of solar panels will further drive this cost-competitiveness. Organic solar cells are holding the promise of addressing these issues, due to their potential to be manufactured on large-areas at high-throughput, and on lightweight, flexible substrates (like plastic or textiles), significantly reducing transportation and installation costs. This, along with optical translucency, gives organic solar cells the potential to be cheaply integrated into everything from clothing to building facades and windows.
Imec has developed a proprietary inverted bulk heterojunction architecture for polymer-based solar cells that simultaneously optimizes cell light management and increases device stability. With this architecture, and a proprietary Polyera semiconductor in the photoactive layer, a team of imec and Solvay researchers now announces a certified conversion efficiency of 8.3%. This is the highest certified efficiency reported to date in the world for inverted polymer cell architectures. This result follows previous reports on imec’s proprietary device architecture, proving that scalable inverted device architectures are applicable to a variety of polymer materials. Although further improvements of efficiency and lifetime are required to bring this potentially-revolutionary technology to market, inverted device architectures offer a number of commercially-relevant benefits over standard architectures. As such, this milestone represents another advancement towards commercially-viable organic solar panels.
Tom Aernouts, R&D Team Leader Organic Photovoltaics at imec: “These excellent results are the fruit of an intense collaboration between Solvay, imec and Polyera. It is remarkable to see how the inverted architecture adds to the performance of these cells! This shows how crucial the combination of high-level device technology and next-generation materials will be to bring organic solar cells to the market.”
Patrick Francoisse, Sustainable Energy Platform Manager, Innovation Center, Solvay: ”Solvay is convinced organic photovoltaic devices will play an essential role in the future, as they will not only be easier and cheaper to produce, but will also enable new applications. These milestone results demonstrate how collaboration between a world-class chemical company, an innovative materials developer like Polyera, and a highly-regarded research and development center like imec can produce breakthrough results that bring the first day of mass production closer. Next to increasing efficiency, our efforts will now also turn to increasing size, and lifetime of the cells.”
Antonio Facchetti, CTO of Polyera: "This is great work done by the teams at imec, Solvay, and here at Polyera. We’ve now demonstrated that with a combination of accurate control over semiconductor polymer chemistry and innovative cell architectures, new efficiency milestones can be achieved". Martin Drees, OPV Device Team Manager at Polyera: "We’re excited by the great technical progress we’ve seen over the past few months, and expect to see the rate of achievement continue to accelerate during the coming year.”
Imec (imec.be) performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics. Imec leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China, India and Japan. Its staff of about 1,900 people includes more than 500 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2010, imec's revenue (P&L) was 285 million euro.
Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a "stichting van openbaar nut”), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre which is supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.) and imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shangai) Co. Ltd.) and imec India (Imec India Private Limited).
Imec has also recently joined the Solliance initiative. Solliance is the alliance of TNO, TU/e, Holst Centre, ECN and imec for research and development in the field of thin film photovoltaic solar energy (PV) in the ELAT-region (Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen triangle). Solliance’s ambition is to strengthen the position of the region as a world player in thin film PV. Solliance creates synergy among more than 250 researchers with this common goal. Solliance (solliance.eu) aims to realize this ambition by joint use of state-of-the-art infrastructure, alignment of research programs, and close cooperation with the solar business community.
Polyera (polyera.com) is a leading supplier of high-performance functional materials for the electronics and opto-electronics industries. By combining world-class R&D with close customer relationships and top-tier technical support, Polyera is pioneering a new era in functional electronic and opto-electronic materials.
SOLVAY (solvay.com) is an international chemical Group committed to sustainable development with a clear focus on innovation and operational excellence. Its recent acquisition of specialty chemicals company Rhodia created a much larger player, which is realizing over 90% of its sales in markets where it is among the top 3 global leaders. Solvay offers a broad range of products that contribute to improving the quality of life and the performance of its customers in markets such as consumer goods, construction, automotive, energy, water and environment, and electronics. The Group is headquartered in Brussels, employs about 30,000 people in 55 countries and generated EUR 12 billion in sales (pro forma) in 2010. Solvay SA is listed on NYSE Euronext (SOLB.BE - Bloomberg: SOLB.BB - Reuters: SOLBt.BR).
Solvay: Erik De Leye, Manager Press & External Communication, T: +32 2 264 1530, E: erik.deleye[.]solvay.com.
Polyera: Brendan Florez, Assistant General Manager, T: +1 224 534 3065. E: bflorez[.]polyera.com.