Stacked polymer cells set solar energy record

Barry Copping

Published: February 14, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Sustainability, Design

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 14, 2:30 p.m. ET) — Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) say they have significantly boosted the performance of polymer solar cells by building a new “tandem” device, stacking multiple cells which absorb different bands of the solar spectrum and convert them into electricity.

Independent verification comes from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which has certified with a power conversion efficiency of 10.6 percent – a new record.

Tandem solar cells are an effective way to harvest a broader spectrum of solar radiation. However, conversion efficiency only increases when combining two cells if their materials are mutually compatible – hitherto making the performance of tandem devices lag behind that of single-layer solar cells.

The UCLA team’s breakthrough is a range of highly efficient single-layer and tandem polymer solar cells featuring a “low band gap conjugated” polymer designed specifically for the tandem structure. The band gap determines which part of the solar spectrum a polymer absorbs.

Professor Yang Yang of UCLA likens the configuration to a double-decker bus. He says: “The bus can carry a certain number of passengers on one deck, but if you were to add a second deck, you could hold many more people for the same amount of space. That’s what we’ve done here with the tandem polymer solar cell.”

He continues: “Everything is done by a very low-cost wet-coating process. As this is compatible with current manufacturing [techniques], I anticipate this technology will become commercially viable in the near future.”

The work is published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Photonics.


Comments

Stacked polymer cells set solar energy record

Barry Copping

Published: February 14, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Bayer spinning off plastics business

September 18, 2014 8:49 am ET

Bayer AG will spin off its MaterialScience plastics group into a separate, publicly-traded company within the next 12 to 18 months.    More

Image

Study: 75 percent of Australia's ocean debris is plastic

September 18, 2014 7:48 pm ET

About 75 percent of the trash found in the waters off Australia's beaches is plastic, with most of that coming from local sources rather than sea-...    More

Image

Investor group wants DuPont to split in two

September 18, 2014 7:37 pm ET

Investment firm Trian Fund Management LP is calling for plastics and chemicals giant DuPont Co. to split itself into two firms, one of which would...    More

Image

P&G removing PE microbeads from its Crest brand toothpaste

September 18, 2014 1:57 pm ET

After months of prodding, Procter & Gamble Co., the makers of Crest brand toothpastes, say polyethlene microbeads will be completely removed from its ...    More

Image

PET to PET boosts recycling capacity

September 18, 2014 11:14 am ET

PET to PET Recycling Austria GmbH, a bottle-to-bottle PET recycling operation backed by Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling and several beverage manufacturers...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook – North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events