Organic Solar Cells

Organic solar cells are a type of solar cell which use a process similar to photosynthesis in plants to produce solar energy. But instead of converting sunlight to glucose, these solar cells convert sunlight into solar energy. In comparison to traditional silicon solar cells, organic solar cells are much less efficient. Some estimates show that they are half as efficient. However, new research has been able to pinpoint a specific area where these cells lose efficiency. This could pave the way to overcome this inefficiency in the future, in order to scale up production and make this technology more mainstream the field of renewable energy. 


How it Works

When photons of light reach the solar cell, they excite electrons and move them to a higher energy state. Once electrons move to this higher energy state, they leave behind a hole in the electron structure.  Electrical current comes from the difference in charge between the excited electron and the hole. This electrical current is what drives the solar cell and is what we use for energy. 

However, electrons can lose energy by falling from their excited state back to their “hole”. Electrons are more attracted to the organic material in the electron structure of an organic solar cell than that of a silicon cell. Thus, the electrons are more prone to falling back to their hole state, and therefore losing their energy potential.  This is the reason that organic solar cells are less efficient.

New Research

However, new research has been able to site a specific area where cells lose efficiency. A study done at University of Cambridge found that an electron configuration called a triplet exciton is especially attracted to these electron “holes”, and thus a lot more prone to lose energy. In simple terms, these researchers figured out a way to keep the “hole” further away from the electron, it will be less likely to fall into this lower energy state. This has the potential to boost the efficiency of organic solar cells. 

Future Usage

New research and information about organic solar cells is exciting because of the potential benefits of this type of solar. For example, organic solar cells are more flexible than their silicon counterparts. They have the ability to wrap around curved surfaces, such the outsides of buildings or cars. Additionally, they are more lightweight and can be semi-transparent. For instance, they could be used in architectural design over windows to add more solar energy to office buildings or other developments. These solar cells are also a lot cheaper to produce, which will translate to cheaper renewable energy costs.

While all of this new research is exciting, there is still a ways to go before organic solar cells hit the market. So for now, regular silicon solar cells are still the most popular and best way to install renewable energy on your home. However as more research is done, we might start to see a different type of solar cell on the market. Luckily, SGE will be ready to install whatever solar technology is on the market!