IMEC & Plextronics Collaborate On Reproducible Organic Solar Cells

September 04, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

IMEC, an independent nanoelectronics research institute, and Plextronics, Inc., an international technology company specializing in printed solar, lighting and other organic electronics, signed an agreement to collaborate on state-of-the-art materials and inks for organic solar cells. With this collaboration, IMEC aims to develop a reproducible process for high-efficiency organic solar cells using Plextronics’ Plexcore® branded materials and inks, which the company claims have demonstrated world-record efficiencies as high as 5.9%, according to recent testing at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado.

IMEC aims to develop organic multi-junction solar cells with efficiency of 10% by 2012. The company’s focus is also on up-scaling of the process to achieve a large-area industrial manufacturing technology with an average efficiency of 7% (+/- 0.5%) and solar cell lifetime of 5 years.

According to the companies, to realize these goals, high-quality, highly reproducible commercial materials are essential. In the first phase, IMEC will investigate Plexcore® OS, which is a regioregular poly-3-hexylthiophene (P3HT) polymer with a high absorption coefficient close to the maximum photon flux in the solar spectrum and high mobility. Plexcore® OS materials will be processed using spin coating and validated on film morphology, carrier mobility and reproducibility. Solar cells will be processed on different substrates using spin-coated films of the material. Future research will include evaluation of other Plexcore® materials and inks, using deposition techniques such as screen and inkjet printing and spray coating on large-area substrates.

"Plextronics’ materials look very promising for high-efficiency reproducible organic solar cells;" said Jef Poortmans, Program Director Solar at IMEC. "With their focus on materials, inks, and process technology for organic solar cells, we expect that our work with Plextronics will help accelerate our optimization and development of an industrial large-area process."

Plextronics’ Andy Hannah, CEO, said that this collaboration with IMEC is an important one for the company. "Our focus is on enabling OPV commercialization with new inks and technology, and partnering with organizations like IMEC that have processing and device expertise is vital to that goal."