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Plastic Solar Minimizes Loss of Photon Energy

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science and Kyoto University's Department of Polymer Chemistry have shown that a newly developed polymer can minimize energy loss as well as silicon-based solar cells when converting photon energy from sunlight to electricity.

 

 The amount of energy lost when converting photons energy from sunlight into electric power was greater in polymer-based solar cells than in silicon-based ones.

 

The group began working with the new polymer, where oxygen rather than sulfur atoms are located at key positions, and found that the new material was able to overcome some of the key obstacles to extracting and utilizing greater energy from sunlight.

 

"Since this new polymer greatly reduces photon energy loss, it has allowed us to achieve a superb power conversion efficiency of nearly 9% with a very high open-circuit voltage in plastic solar cells," explains Itaru Osaka.

 

An efficiency of 15% is usually seen as a breakthrough level that will allow polymer-based cells to be commercialized. "By achieving both a high short-circuit current and a high open-circuit voltage," he continues, "achieving a power conversion efficiency of 15% in single-junction cells is a realistic goal. This would have huge implications for the solar energy sector."