Print-On Polymer Multiplies Solar Output

PORTLAND, Ore. — Scientists have demonstrated a doubling of the number of electrons produced by carbon-based photovoltaic polymer potentially doubling the efficiency of any solar cell. The process called “singlet fission” produces “identical twin” electrons from a single photon, instead of the normal one, dramatically boosting the theoretical maximum output of solar cells. Instead of loosing energy to heat, an extra electron is produced by the process of applying a polymer solution to an existing solar cell.

“One of the challenges in improving the efficiency of solar cells is that a portion of the absorbed light energy is lost as heat,” lead scientist at Brookhaven National Labs, Matt Sfeir, told EE Times. “In singlet fission, one absorbed unit of light results in two units of electricity via a multiplication process rather than resulting in one unit of electricity and heat as would occur in a conventional cell.”

To boot, the carbon-based polymer (BaTi2Sb2O and BaTi2As2O) can be liquified for mass production using cheap manufacturing processes that essentially “print” onto conventional solar cells.

Template of design for doubling the number of electronics produced by solar cell using a coating that induces singlet fission.
(Source: Brookhaven National Labs)
Print-On Polymer Multiplies Solar Output



“Our materials would be used as a ‘sensitizer’ on conventional photovoltaic (organic or inorganic),” Sfeir told us.  “Unlike previously reported fission materials, these polymers work efficiently while dissolved in liquids, potentially allowing for industrial scale manufacturing.”


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