Highly Efficient Low-Cost Polymeric Solar Cells

::Download Scientific Description::  ::Project Researchers and Highly Qualified Personnel::  ::Project Progress Summary::  Various combinations using light-absorbing polymers as a donor and organic semiconductors as an acceptor have been developed for organic bulk heterojunction (BHJ) solar cells. BHJ solar cells have become the standard organic solar cell architecture because the fabrication is simple, the two donor and absorber materials are simply mixed together, and the somewhat random three-dimensional interface between the two materials created in a BHJ solar cell has many advantages over a purely flat interface. However, this technology still faces issues of relatively low device efficiency and short useable lifetime as compared to Silicon-based solar cells.

Group Photo for PROJECT3

left to right: Professor Michel Côté (Co-Investigator – Université de Montréal), Bing Cao (PhD student – University of Alberta), Professor Mario Leclerc (Project Leader – Université Laval), Vincent Gosselin (MSc student – Université de Montréal), and Nicolas Bérubé (PhD student – Université de Montréal)

Figure: This is an image of the electronic density of a carbazole molecule. This molecule is used in organic photovoltaic devices. It is used in the chemist group of Mario Leclerc at Université Laval. This image was provided by the group of Michel Côté at the Université de Montréal that does quantum mechanics calculations on these materials.

Some of the major factors limiting the power conversion efficiency include poor absorption for red light, the requirement of thin absorbing layers and poor conduction of electricity. In this project, a cross-disciplinary research team has been assembled to address these problems. Firstly, the project will benefit from theoretical support provided by Michel Côté’s group to help understand the electronic interactions between the different constituents of organic solar cells. Secondly, the team of Mario Leclerc will prepare different conjugated polymers in relatively large quantities;  and thirdly, the new polymeric materials and fullerene derivatives will be sent to Jillian Buriak to be fully characterized.

Part way through the project, Professor Wayne Wang (Carleton University) joined the team as co-investigator. His main focus was the development of new low-bandgap chromophores and a new acceptor for conjugated polymers for solar cell applications.