Solar cells based on organic polymers, or the so-called organic photovoltaic cells (OPVs), are known to be much cheaper to make than the popular silicon solar cells. They can be applied to any flexible substrate, and they can be used for various applications.
However, OPVs are known to have lower conversion efficiency than silicon solar cells, which is a disadvantage that is used against them.
The team of researchers at Argonne decided to look into the issue and find ways to improve the efficiency, or at least identify and minimize possible causes for further reduction.
Seth Darling and his colleagues decided to use Advanced Photon Source (APS) in order to study the amount of electric charge generated by the solar cell, which is trapped by the OPV residue, reducing the cells’ efficiency.
APS provides x-ray beams, which are known to be the brightest storage ring-generated beams in the Western Hemisphere. By using the beams, the team was able to create a fluorescent effect, which helped them identify and quantify traces of residue.
The findings of this research have already been taken on board by the photovoltaic industry, and it is expected that the benefits for U.S. companies will be huge.