Organic photovoltaics are the wave of the future.
By Gail Flower
At the FlexTech Alliance conference in Phoenix, AZ, last week, I led a panel on photovoltaics that pointed toward organic photovoltaics as the wave of the future.
One of the things the panel discussed was how to cut down on the cost of materials to give solar development a boost. Miles Barr of MIT spoke first on his use of less expensive materials for conductive inks in his research. First he used nanosilver for its conductivity; next he experimented with nano-copper as a replacement. To overcome problems with oxidation, he next tried coating the nano-copper with nickel for a cupronickel alloy. He also experimented with vapor phase printing on paper substrates and evaluated the properties of paper for PV. The materials science used in Barr’s research is just the type of approach that’s needed to evaluate possible new approaches.
On the other side of the scale there were many speakers who described their full-fledged operations. For instance, Jim Buntaine of Konarka talked about his company’s efforts in organic PV. Organic just seems to be the way to go. It’s flexible, thin, light-weight, impact resistant, can come in multiple colors, has a positive temperature coefficient, and is recyclable. Konarka’s New Bedford, MA, plant has a 1 GW/year capability, he said, and prints PV packaging (substrate layer, primary electrode layer, printed active material, transparent electrode, and transparent packaging) in a roll-to-roll manner. The printing of OPV in this manner is an environmentally green product.
The whole panel had interesting things to say about how efficiencies have improved, how costs can be controlled, and how printed OPV will be a good market for a long time in to the future.
Look for more news on what the other panelists had to say in upcoming blogs.
Panel members (Left to Right)
Gail Flower, iSP magazine, chair
Steve Bedell, Ph.D., research staff member, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, “High Efficiency Flexible PV Enabled by Controlled Spalling Technology”
James Buntaine, Ph.D., executive V.P. and CTO, Konarka, “Organic Photovoltaics: Fulfilling Next Generation PV Requirements”
Zheng Xu, Ph.D., manager of device engineering, Solarmer Energy, Inc, “Driving
Down the Cost of Flexible PV Panels”
Bert Männig, co-founder and project manager, Heliatek, “Flexible OPV Based on Oligomers on its Way from Lab to Fab”
Jean-Noel Poirier, chief sales officer, Global Solar Energy, “Advances in Photovoltaics—Taking Solar to the Next Level”
Miles Barr, Ph.D. candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Vapor Printed Paper Photovoltaics”
Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.