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Solar Cells Project

Over the past four decades, organic-based photovoltaics (OPVs) have become the most promising, cost-effective alternatives in the pursuit of new energy sources. OPV devices can be constructed from inexpensive materials and simply printed onto flexible substrates. These devices are promising because of their very low manufacturing costs and the possibility of a bottom-up approach for designing nano-architectures that can be tailored with customized properties. However, OPV devices still suffer from low efficiencies and limited lifetimes because of the difficulties in controlling and stabilizing the nanostructure within the devices.

The main research objective of this project is to develop new n-type non-fullerene acceptor materials in organic photovoltaics and to further optimize the nano-architecture of solar cell active layers in order to build highly-efficient organic photovoltaic devices, using a bottom-up approach.

As a solution to this key problem, we incorporate highly stable, self-assembled nanowires and nanotubes to control the nanostructure of OPV devices and assure efficient electron and hole transport within the devices. It should be possible to scale up such a self-assembly based approach in a cost effective manner, for example, by simply printing the precursor materials for the porous nanowire frameworks onto the devices and then allowing the precursors to self-assemble into functional active layers. These one-, two- and three-dimensional frameworks have quite high thermal stabilities so the resulting devices are also expected to resist long-term degradation. It is not unlikely that such a technology to control the nanostructure of OPV devices will lead to high efficiencies. Since OPVs could potentially be produced at significantly lower cost, they may serve to secure a large portion of the world-wide energy market, particularly now that many governments are planning to employ carbon emission trading schemes or taxes that will make renewable energy sources more competitive with existing fossil fuel power production.

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