Winchester, UK - Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have shown the possibility of creating a new polymer for use in solar cells that exhibits greater sunlight absorption and conversion capabilities than existing polymers.
Reporting in the November 26 edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a team led by Yang Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering, showed that by substituting a silicon atom for carbon atom in the backbone of the polymer it was found that material's photovoltaic properties improved. The silole-containing polymer can also be crystalline in structure enabling it to be a potential ingredient for high-efficiency solar cells.
Polymer solar cells utilize environmentally friendly organic compounds to produce electricity from sunlight and should be much cheaper to produce than traditional silicon-based solar cells.
Low efficiencies have traditionally held back the progress of polymer solar cells but the new polymer created by the UCLA team has reached an efficiency of 5.6 percent in the lab.
The study was funded by Solarmer Energy Inc. and a UC Discovery Grant. Solarmer Energy Inc. has recently licensed the technology from UCLA for commercialization.
UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science