In future, solar cells could be printed like sheets of newspaper

Printable electrodes improve efficiency of organic solar cells

Flexible electrodes could allow organic solar cells to be printed ‘like newspapers’ while improving efficiency of some kinds of materials.

A focus of an EU-funded project TREASORES, led by EMPA, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, such technologies could help make solar energy more affordable.

The team led by Professor Frank Nüesch, has recently demonstrated some prototypes including prototype flexible solar modules and novel silver-based electrodes.

The ultra-thin transparent silver electrode is not only cheaper than currently dominant indium tin oxide electrodes but also more efficient, the researchers said. In tests, the electrode enabled the researchers to improve efficiency of perovskite-based solar cells to 7 per cent.

"Our new low-cost electrode substrates already outperform existing conductive oxide electrodes in many ways", said Professor Nüesch. "But we must further improve the resulting device yields from large-scale production by reducing the defect density of the substrates."

The team, consisting from 19 laboratories from across Europe, hopes to develop techniques to mass-produce the electrodes in rolls of more than 100 metres in length.

Flexible organic solar cells are believed to have an enormous potential as they require only a minimum amount of rather cheap materials and can be manufactured in large quantities in rolls like newspaper sheets. This makes them suitable for large scale production of various optoelectronic devices including, in addition to solar cells, also ultra-thin LED panels.

The TREASORES project, standing for Transparent Electrodes for Large Area Large Scale Production of Organic Optoelectronic Devices, received €14m through the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme. The project, launched in November 2012 will be concluded in 2017.

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