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Concept: Photovoltaic module


Organic solar cells have the potential to become a low-cost sustainable energy source. Understanding the photoconversion mechanism is key to the design of efficient organic solar cells. In this review, we discuss the processes involved in the photo-electron conversion mechanism, which may be subdivided into exciton harvesting, exciton transport, exciton dissociation, charge transport and extraction stages. In particular, we focus on the role of energy transfer as described by F¨orster resonance energy transfer (FRET) theory in the photoconversion mechanism. FRET plays a major role in exciton transport, harvesting and dissociation. The spectral absorption range of organic solar cells may be extended using sensitizers that efficiently transfer absorbed energy to the photoactive materials. The limitations of F¨orster theory to accurately calculate energy transfer rates are discussed. Energy transfer is the first step of an efficient two-step exciton dissociation process and may also be used to preferentially transport excitons to the heterointerface, where efficient exciton dissociation may occur. However, FRET also competes with charge transfer at the heterointerface turning it in a potential loss mechanism. An energy cascade comprising both energy transfer and charge transfer may aid in separating charges and is briefly discussed. Considering the extent to which the photo-electron conversion efficiency is governed by energy transfer, optimisation of this process offers the prospect of improved organic photovoltaic performance and thus aids in realising the potential of organic solar cells.

Concepts: Energy, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Organic solar cell, Energy conversion, Förster resonance energy transfer, Photovoltaic module, Alternative energy


We demonstrate series-integrated multijunction organic photovoltaics fabricated monolithically by vapor-deposition in a transposed subcell order with the near-infrared-absorbing subcell in front of the green-absorbing subcell. This transposed subcell order is enabled by the highly complementary absorption spectra of a near-infrared-absorbing visibly-transparent subcell and a visible-absorbing subcell and motivated by the non-spatially-uniform optical intensity in nanoscale photovoltaics. The subcell order and thicknesses are optimized via transfer-matrix formalism and short-circuit current simulations. An efficient charge recombination zone consisting of layers of BCP/Ag/MoOx leads to negligible voltage and series-resistance losses. Under 1-sun illumination the multijunction solar cells exhibit a power conversion efficiency of 5.5 ± 0.2% with an FF of 0.685 ± 0.002 and a V(OC) of 1.65 ± 0.02 V, corresponding to the sum of the V(OC) of the component subcells. These devices exhibit a broad spectral response (in the wavelength range of 350 nm to 850 nm) but are limited by subcell external quantum efficiencies between 20% and 30% over the photoactive spectrum.

Concepts: Light, Solar cell, Absorption, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Spectrum, Photovoltaic module


The recent stunning rise in power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) has triggered worldwide intense research. However, high PCE values have often been reached with poor stability at an illuminated area of typically less than 0.1 cm(2). We used heavily doped inorganic charge extraction layers in planar PSCs to achieve very rapid carrier extraction even with 10-20 nm thick layers avoiding pinholes and eliminating local structural defects over large areas. This robust inorganic nature allowed for the fabrication of PSCs with an aperture area >1 cm(2) showing a power conversion efficiency (PCE) >15% certified by an accredited photovoltaic calibration laboratory. Hysteresis in the current-voltage characteristics was eliminated; the PSCs were stable: >90% of the initial PCE remained after 1000 hours light soaking.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Photovoltaic module, Robust statistics, P-n junction, Photovoltaic array


Organometal halide perovskite-based solar cells have recently realized large conversion efficiency over 15% showing great promise for a new large scale cost-competitive photovoltaic technology. Using impedance spectroscopy measurements we are able to separate the physical parameters of carrier transport and recombination in working devices of the two principal morphologies and compositions of perovskite solar cells, viz. compact thin film of CH3NH3PbI3-xClx and CH3NH3PbI3 infiltrated on nanostructured TiO2. The results show nearly identical spectral characteristics indicating a unique photovoltaic operating mechanism that provides long diffusion lengths (1 m). Carrier conductivity in both devices is closely matched, so that the most significant differences in performance are attributed to recombination rates. These results highlight the central role of the CH3NH3PbX3 semiconductor absorber in carrier collection and provide a new tool for improved optimization of perovskite solar cells. We report for the first time a measurement of the diffusion length in a nanostructured perovskite solar cell.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Germanium, Photovoltaic module, Band gap, Photovoltaic array, Solar cells, Solar tracker


Using charge modulated electroabsorption spectroscopy (CMEAS), for the first time, the energy level alignment of a polymer:fullerene bulk heterojunction photovoltaic cell is directly measured. The charge-transfer excitons generated by the sub-bandgap optical pumping are coupled with the modulating electric field and introduce subtle changes in optical absorption in the sub-bandgap region. This minimum required energy for sub-bandgap charge genreation is defined as the effective bandgap.

Concepts: Photon, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Semiconductor, Solar cell, Absorption, Photovoltaics, Photovoltaic module


Quantum dot sensitized solar cells (QDSSCs) present a promising technology for next generation photovoltaic cells, having exhibited a considerable leap in performance over the last few years. However, recombination processes occurring in parallel at the TiO(2)-QDs-electrolyte triple junction constitute one of the major limitations for further improvement of QDSSCs. Reaching higher conversion efficiencies necessitates gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of charge recombination in these kinds of cells; this will essentially lead to the development of new solutions for inhibiting the described losses. In this study we have systematically examined the contribution of each interface formed at the triple junction to the recombination of the solar cell. We show that the recombination of electrons at the TiO(2)/QDs interface is as important as the recombination from TiO(2) and QDs to the electrolyte. By applying conformal MgO coating both above and below the QD surface, recombination rates were significantly reduced, and an improvement of more than 20% in cell efficiency was recorded.

Concepts: Photoelectric effect, Quantum dot, Cadmium, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Photovoltaic module, Band gap, Solar cells


Power conversion efficiencies in excess of 7 % have been achieved with bulk heterojunction (BHJ)-type organic solar cells using two components: p- and n-doped materials. The energy level and absorption profile of the active layer can be tuned by introduction of an additional component. Careful design of the additional component is required to achieve optimal panchromatic absorption, suitable energy-level offset, balanced electron and hole mobility, and good light-harvesting efficiency. This article reviews the recent progress on ternary organic photovoltaic systems, including polymer/small molecule/functional fullerene, polymer/polymer/functional fullerene, small molecule/small molecule/functional fullerene, polymer/functional fullerene I/functional fullerene II, and polymer/quantum dot or metal/functional fullerene systems.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Organic solar cell, Energy conversion, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array, Organic electronics, Solar tracker


Organo-lead halide perovskites have attracted much attention for solar cell applications due to their unique optical and electrical properties. With either low-temperature solution processing or vacuum evaporation, the overall conversion efficiencies of perovskite solar cells with organic hole-transporting material were quickly improved to over 15% during the last 2 years. However, the organic hole-transporting materials used are normally quite expensive due to complicated synthetic procedure or high-purity requirement. Here, we demonstrate the application of an effective and cheap inorganic p-type hole-transporting material, copper thiocyanate, on lead halide perovskite-based devices. With low-temperature solution-process deposition method, a power conversion efficiency of 12.4% was achieved under full sun illumination. This work represents a well-defined cell configuration with optimized perovskite morphology by two times of lead iodide deposition, and opens the door for integration of a class of abundant and inexpensive material for photovoltaic application.

Concepts: Oxygen, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array, Lead(II) nitrate


We developed lead halide perovskite quantum dot (QD) films with tuned surface chemistry based on A-site cation halide salt (AX) treatments. QD perovskites offer colloidal synthesis and processing using industrially friendly solvents, which decouples grain growth from film deposition, and at present produce larger open-circuit voltages (VOC’s) than thin-film perovskites. CsPbI3 QDs, with a tunable bandgap between 1.75 and 2.13 eV, are an ideal top cell candidate for all-perovskite multijunction solar cells because of their demonstrated small VOC deficit. We show that charge carrier mobility within perovskite QD films is dictated by the chemical conditions at the QD-QD junctions. The AX treatments provide a method for tuning the coupling between perovskite QDs, which is exploited for improved charge transport for fabricating high-quality QD films and devices. The AX treatments presented here double the film mobility, enabling increased photocurrent, and lead to a record certified QD solar cell efficiency of 13.43%.

Concepts: Photoelectric effect, Condensed matter physics, Chemistry, Quantum dot, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Photovoltaic module, Band gap


Recent advances in the use of organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites for optoelectronics have been rapid, with reported power conversion efficiencies of up to 22 per cent for perovskite solar cells. Improvements in stability have also enabled testing over a timescale of thousands of hours. However, large-scale deployment of such cells will also require the ability to produce large-area, uniformly high-quality perovskite films. A key challenge is to overcome the substantial reduction in power conversion efficiency when a small device is scaled up: a reduction from over 20 per cent to about 10 per cent is found when a common aperture area of about 0.1 square centimetres is increased to more than 25 square centimetres. Here we report a new deposition route for methyl ammonium lead halide perovskite films that does not rely on use of a common solvent or vacuum: rather, it relies on the rapid conversion of amine complex precursors to perovskite films, followed by a pressure application step. The deposited perovskite films were free of pin-holes and highly uniform. Importantly, the new deposition approach can be performed in air at low temperatures, facilitating fabrication of large-area perovskite devices. We reached a certified power conversion efficiency of 12.1 per cent with an aperture area of 36.1 square centimetres for a mesoporous TiO2-based perovskite solar module architecture.

Concepts: Nitrogen, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Photovoltaic module, Amorphous silicon, Photovoltaic array