Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Roll-To-Roll Process for Polymer Solar Cells

Technology #4581

Organic Solar Cells

Cost effective and highly efficient renewable energy is becoming ever more important due to the rising energy prices and the serious issue of global warming from burning fossil fuels. Solar energy is a non-exhaustible and green energy. Solar cells are being developed as a promising solution to the energy crisis and environmental pollution. Third-generation organic solar cells offer a promising alternative to First- and Second-generation inorganic solar cells due to their low cost, easy fabrication and compatibility with flexible substrates over a large area. The solar power generation market is a $65 Billion worldwide market with a 34% annual growth and technologies that increase the efficiency and manufacturing scalability of the solar cells will be key to capturing a large share of this market.

Roll-to-Roll Processing, Metallic Nanostructures and High Efficiency.

Researchers in the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Michigan have developed technologies to increase the efficiency of organic solar cells, remove the dependence on Indium, and enable high speed roll-to-roll processing. The technology uses a gas permeable silicone film that allows solvent evaporation and simultaneously induces shear flow to organize the polymer chains during polymer crystallization. Solar cells fabricated by this new method and by a roll-to-roll process showed improved device performance as compared with control samples made by the conventional thermal and solvent annealing methods. The technology also employs a cost-effective metallic nanostructured layer as the transparent, conductive electrode to replace expensive Indium-Tin-Oxide (ITO).

Applications and Advantages

Applications

  • Transparent, conductive coatings and electrodes.
  • High speed roll-to-roll processing of organic solar cells.
  • Increase of organic solar cell efficiency.

Advantages

  • Less expensive TCE (transparent conductive electrode) than currently commercially available.
  • Fabrication method is easy to scale.
  • Higher energy conversion efficiency.