Almost all the leading scientific centers of the planet have joined in the work on the creation of technology for converting sunlight into electrical energy. Obtaining clean, unlimited energy is one of the priority tasks, the solution of which will protect the Earth from environmental disasters and provide humanity with an inexhaustible supply of cheap energy.
One of the areas of solar energy is the use of organic solar panels, instead of expensive but more energy-efficient silicon-based ones. A group of researchers from Nuremberg and Erlangen managed to develop organic panels with the record-breaking efficiency of the process of converting solar energy into electricity.
Scientists were able to create organic photovoltaic modules (OPV) consists of 12 cells connected in series and has a geometric fill factor of more than 95%. The increase in usable area was achieved using laser technology. This part of the module area actively contributes to power generation.
Together with the South China University of Technology (SCUT), a sample of an organic solar module was created, with an efficiency of 12.6 percent over an area of 26 square centimeters. For comparison, the previous OPV record was 9.7%; thus, the increase in efficiency was about 30%.
According to the team, this is the highest efficiency value ever reported for an organic photovoltaic module. “This breakthrough shows that Bavaria is not only a leader in the advancement of photovoltaic installations, but also occupies a leading position in the development of future technologies,” said Hubert Aiwanger, Bavarian State Minister of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy.
Most importantly, these organic solar modules have low cost, flexibility, and low weight that allows for new applications, such as mobile devices or clothing, even if the efficiency is not yet comparable to that of traditional silicon solar cells.
“This milestone in organic semiconductor research shows that the latest performance developments with certified cell efficiencies of over 16 percent are not limited to the laboratory scale, but ready to be scaled up to the level of prototype modules,” explains Prof. Christoph Brabec from FAU.