A new theoretical model developed by professors at the University of Houston (UH) and Université de Montréal may hold the key to methods for developing better materials for solar cells.pro eric bitter
Eric Bittner, a John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Chemistry and Physics in UH’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Carlos Silva, an associate professor at the Université de Montréal and Canada Research Chair in Organic Semiconductor Materials, say the model could lead to new solar cell materials made from improved blends of semiconducting polymers and fullerenes.
The researchers describe their findings in a paper titled “Noise-Induced Quantum Coherence Drives Photo-Carrier Generation Dynamics at Polymeric Semiconductor Heterojunctions,” appearing in Nature Communications in January 2014.
Solar cells are made out of organic semiconductors — typically blends of materials. However, solar cells made of these materials have about 3 percent efficiency. Bittner added that the newer materials, the fullerene/polymer blends, only reach about 10 percent efficiency. “There is a theoretical limit for the efficiency of the ideal solar cell — the Shockley-Queisser limit. The theory we published describes how we might be able to get above this theoretical limit by taking advantage of quantum mechanical effects,” Bittner said. “By understanding these effects and making use of them in the design of a solar cell, we believe you can improve efficiency.”

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