New theory could lead to more efficienct organic solar cells

Researchers from the University of Houston (UH), Texas and the Université de Montréal, Quebec have developed a new theoretical model that could be used to create improved blends of semiconducting polymers and fullerenes for organic solar cell applications.
Typical organic solar cells only have a conversion efficiency of about 3%, the researchers say. By using current fullerene/polymer blends, this can be improved to about 10%. The researchers believe that by taking advantage of quantum mechanical effects, fullerene/polymer blends could theoretically be improved to further increase the conversion efficiency of organic solar cells.
Université de Montréal associate professor Carlos Silva explains: »In polymeric semiconductors, where plastics form the active layer of solar cells, the electronic structure of the material is intimately correlated with the vibrational motion within the polymer chain. Quantum-mechanical effects due to such vibrational-electron coupling give rise to a plethora of interesting physical processes that can be controlled to optimize solar cell efficiencies by designing materials that best exploit them.«
The calculations have prompted a series of new experiments by Silva’s group to probe the outcomes predicted by their model. The team hopes to eventually collaborate with experts in the fields of producing polymers and solar cells.

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