FlexTech Alliance Funded Project with Solarmer Energy Yields High Efficiency, Low Cost Organic Photovoltaic Cells and Modules

(Nanowerk News) FlexTech Alliance, focused on developing the flexible, printed electronics industry supply chain, announced the completion of a multi-year project with Solarmer Energy, Inc. The objective of the project was to develop high performance polymers for organic photovoltaic cells (OPVs). Polymer solar cells offer many advantages over traditional photovoltaic cells such as low weight, flexibility, and low cost fabrication in a variety of sizes. Target applications are widespread and unique including: low power portable electronics, building integrated photovoltaics, off grid power for rural areas, and ultra lightweight power for military applications.
OPVs are expected to produce electricity at 10-20% of the cost of silicon solar cells, making them comparable to fossil fuels. This presents a tremendous opportunity to provide clean energy free from dependence on fossil fuels with zero CO2 emissions. However, the biggest hindrance to achieving the light-to-electricity conversion rate needed to make OPVs practical has been the lack of materials with the requisite properties for a high efficiency device.
To solve these problems, Solarmer Energy, with funding from FlexTech Alliance designed and synthesized new electron donor polymers with smaller band gap, suitable energy levels, and higher carrier mobility all contributing to higher energy conversion. When the Solarmer project was initiated, the world record for OPV efficiency was ~5%. During the project, the Solarmer team made substantial progress in OPV technology, including successful development of high quality donor polymers enabling several National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) certified world records in OPV efficiencies from 6.8% to 7.6%, 7.9% and 8.13%. Since the completion of the project, Solarmer has continued to push efficiencies to 8.48%.
"Our progress confirms that OPV technology is on the right course to become a cost effective and competitive technology," said Woolas Hsieh, president of Solarmer. "Furthermore, our products have the potential to cut the energy production cost down to 12 to 15 cents/kWh and less than $1/W by the 2014 timeframe. Consequently, this could pave the way for mass production and large scale utilization."
"FlexTech Alliance has been actively involved in identifying technology gaps and developing many of the underlying elements in the photovoltaics supply chain," said Michael Ciesinski, CEO of FlexTech Alliance. "This project with Solarmer Energy has made significant strides in the commercialization of organic photovoltaics. Solarmer was able to successfully demonstrate benchtop and pilot-line fabrication of high-efficiency OPV modules using technology developed upon the successful completion of this project."
See the results of the Solarmer Energy project at the 2012 Flexible Electronics and Displays Conference and Exhibition February 6-9, 2012 in Phoenix. Arizona. Visit www.flexconference.org for details. The FlexTech Alliance program is a collaborative effort of private industry and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, located in Adelphi, MD.
About FlexTech Alliance
The FlexTech Alliance is the only organization headquartered in North America exclusively devoted to fostering the growth, profitability and success of the electronic display and the flexible, printed electronics supply chain. FlexTech Alliance offers expanded collaboration between and among industry, academia, government, and research organizations for advancing displays and flexible, printed electronics from R&D to commercialization. To this end, the FlexTech Alliance, based in San Jose, Calif., will help foster development of the supply chain required to support a world-class, manufacturing capability for displays and flexible, printed electronics. More information about the FlexTech Alliance can be found at the industry portal: www.flextech.org .
Source: FlexTech Alliance (press release)
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