Technology breakthrough boosts organic solar cells
A recent technology breakthrough claims to dramatically increase the efficiency of organic solar cells and make them a cheaper and more flexible alternative to silicon-based solar cells. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered that manipulating the “spin” of electrons inside organic solar cells can dramatically improve their performance.
However, current organic solar cells can only achieve an efficiency of around 12% in turning light into electricity, compared with 20-25% for silicon cells. One of the problems limiting efficiency is that some of the molecules in the cell perform photosynthesis unexpectedly well, while others perform below par. Until now scientists were puzzled by this inconsistency.
The Cambridge research team, however, has showed that the difference in performance between the materials can be attributed to the quantum property of “spin.” They found that if they arranged the electrons to “spin” in a specific way, they could increase the current produced by the cell.
“This discovery is very exciting, as we can now harness spin physics to improve solar cells, something we had previously not thought possible,” said Akshay Rao, a Research Fellow at the Cavendish Laboratory and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. “We should see new materials and solar cells that make use of this very soon.”