A new understanding of fullerenes, a molecule composed entirely of carbon and shaped like a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, or tube, may lead to a new class of electronic acceptors that can be used to build less expensive organic solar cells.
Invented nearly 20 years ago, organic solar cells have come a long way. However, in all that time, the fullerene component has remained virtually unchanged and has somewhat hampered the evolution of the technology.
An alternative to fullerenes has been sought for quite some time, and the solar cell industry has noted they have several drawbacks as electronic acceptors, not least of which is limited light absorption and high cost.
Scientists at the University of Warwick have determined that fullerenes have the availability of additional electron accepting states and can be replicated to create a new class of fullerene mimics.
But, the scientists have demonstrated that a new class of molecular acceptors with the same electronic characteristic can be designed relatively easily; this paves the way for a route towards replacing fullerene derivatives in solar cells.
Understanding exactly how the fullerene behaves allows the door to be unlocked leading to finding replacements for this material.
The University of Warwick has filed an application for a patent. Ultimately, scientists want to work with the commercial sector to commercialize this technology.