Solar Energy Enabled for the World by High-resolution Imaging

The third generation of solar cells is at our doors. Be it organic photovoltaics (OPVs), quantum dot or perovskite solar cells, all third-generation technologies promise thinner cells with higher power efficiency – at a lower price tag. But there is a serious obstacle on the path to commercialization: Third-generation cells are so thin and complex that by the time they are fully manufactured, we’re not so sure how they are structured any more.

Take organic solar cells for instance. They consist of light elements with small variations in density. Studying the nanostructure of these elements calls for a technique providing some contrast between different microstructural irregularities at the nanoscale. Although this is key to correlating photovoltaic performance with processing conditions, it was almost impossible to achieve before SEEWHI.

The project aims at establishing the actual nanostructure with X-ray imaging, and correlate these structures with models of photovoltaic performance and molecular dynamics. This allows determining the relation between processing parameters and the resulting structure. The hope is to succeed in providing a roadmap allowing experimenters to bypass years of trial and error and find out about overlooked opportunities. Eventually, this may lead to a major breakthrough, not only for organic solar cells, but for many technologies relying on self-organisation of structure from the atomic to the mesoscale. Source: Frontier research for the Green Deal: Driving forward Europe’s climate ambitions through innovation and transformation | H2020 | Results Pack | CORDIS | European Commission (