Long-lasting solar cells

Chemicals and materials firm, Cytec Industries, is working with European nanoelectronics research institute, IMEC, to develop a technology that will extend the lifetime of organic photovoltaics.



The work will centre on increasing the life expectancy of organic solar cells to over five years so that they can be used for everyday applications. While recent research into organic solar cells has largely focused on increasing the conversion efficiency, Cytec claims that work on the operational lifetime of organic solar cells will be crucial to commercialising the technology.



Working towards enhancing the stability of the cells, the research team is hoping to combine knowledge in chemical synthesis and materials processing to develop an encapsulation technology from the degradation sources of oxygen and water to form a barrier.



According to IMEC, this could help steady the nanomorphology of the photo-active blend of polymers and fullerene acceptor molecules that are prone to segregation in organic cells.



Cytec’s specialty chemicals vice-president of research and development, Martin Court, said: ‘Cytec is very pleased to have the opportunity to work on this project together with IMEC. We are convinced that Cytec’s capabilities in coatings, adhesives, inks and energy curing technology combined with IMEC’s outstanding processing and technology capabilities will make this project a success.’



IMEC’s programme director of photovoltaics, Jef Poortmans, added: ‘Organic solar-cell technology is one of the most exciting emerging technologies for low-cost photovoltaic cells. IMEC is very pleased to have the opportunity to combine its process technology expertise with the excellent skills of Cytec in the field of synthesis and coatings to address the crucial issue of device stability and encapsulation.’



The project will run for two years, ending in March 2011.