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I am a postdoctoral researcher who has expertise in the fields of molecular photophysics.


The fourth generation of single-junction solar cells are set to achieve record breaking efficiencies

Want to do your piece for a sustainable earth? Considering installing silicon solar panels on your roof? Wondering how long they will take to return your investment? If you answer yes to any of these- read on!

As well as being applauded for wanting to action to help curb greenhouse emissions (nice one), you also should be informed as to the state-of-the-art technologies about to shake-up the photovoltaics industry.

Unfortunately current commercially available silicon solar panels have an efficiency that is fundamentally limited to about 30%. But, this is set to change as the fourth generation of solar, also known as 'Ultra-High Efficiency' solar cells, are on their way...

In more detail... To by-pass the theoretical limit of solar efficiency (termed the Shockley-Queisser limit- heard of it?), researchers around the world are working on coating for a silicon panel that can offer a boost in efficiency. This 'coating' is infact a second semiconductor that absorbs higher energy photons and down-converts and transfers them to the silicon cell.

How does this 'coating' lead to higher efficiencies? Simply put, the silicon layer and coating are chosen so that they absorb different regions of the solar spectrum, thus expanding the number of photons that can be harvested by one cell.

What materials are of interest? The types of molecular semiconductors of interest are materials that undergo singlet exciton fission, or otherwise known as an exciton multiplication mechanism... Want to learn more about the nitty gritty? Go here...

So what does this mean for you? Should you hold off before you invest in solar? No way! These technologies are still in the research stage, but hopefully will be implemented in the next couple decades. In other words, watch this space!


Singlet exciton fission photovoltaics.

Abstract: Singlet exciton fission, a process that generates two excitons from a single photon, is perhaps the most efficient of the various multiexciton-generation processes studied to date, offering the potential to increase the efficiency of solar devices. But its unique characteristic, splitting a photogenerated singlet exciton into two dark triplet states, means that the empty absorption region between the singlet and triplet excitons must be filled by adding another material that captures low-energy photons. This has required the development of specialized device architectures. In this Account, we review work to develop devices that harness the theoretical benefits of singlet exciton fission. First, we discuss singlet fission in the archetypal material, pentacene. Pentacene-based photovoltaic devices typically show high external and internal quantum efficiencies. They have enabled researchers to characterize fission, including yield and the impact of competing loss processes, within functional devices. We review in situ probes of singlet fission that modulate the photocurrent using a magnetic field. We also summarize studies of the dissociation of triplet excitons into charge at the pentacene-buckyball (C60) donor-acceptor interface. Multiple independent measurements confirm that pentacene triplet excitons can dissociate at the C60 interface despite their relatively low energy. Because triplet excitons produced by singlet fission each have no more than half the energy of the original photoexcitation, they limit the potential open circuit voltage within a solar cell. Thus, if singlet fission is to increase the overall efficiency of a solar cell and not just double the photocurrent at the cost of halving the voltage, it is necessary to also harvest photons in the absorption gap between the singlet and triplet energies of the singlet fission material. We review two device architectures that attempt this using long-wavelength materials: a three-layer structure that uses long- and short-wavelength donors and an acceptor and a simpler, two-layer combination of a singlet-fission donor and a long-wavelength acceptor. An example of the trilayer structure is singlet fission in tetracene with copper phthalocyanine inserted at the C60 interface. The bilayer approach includes pentacene photovoltaic cells with an acceptor of infrared-absorbing lead sulfide or lead selenide nanocrystals. Lead selenide nanocrystals appear to be the most promising acceptors, exhibiting efficient triplet exciton dissociation and high power conversion efficiency. Finally, we review architectures that use singlet fission materials to sensitize other absorbers, thereby effectively converting conventional donor materials to singlet fission dyes. In these devices, photoexcitation occurs in a particular molecule and then energy is transferred to a singlet fission dye where the fission occurs. For example, rubrene inserted between a donor and an acceptor decouples the ability to perform singlet fission from other major photovoltaic properties such as light absorption.

Pub.: 25 Apr '13, Pinned: 27 Apr '17

Singlet exciton fission in polycrystalline pentacene: from photophysics toward devices.

Abstract: Singlet exciton fission is the process in conjugated organic molecules bywhich a photogenerated singlet exciton couples to a nearby chromophore in the ground state, creating a pair of triplet excitons. Researchers first reported this phenomenon in the 1960s, an event that sparked further studies in the following decade. These investigations used fluorescence spectroscopy to establish that exciton fission occurred in single crystals of several acenes. However, research interest has been recently rekindled by the possibility that singlet fission could be used as a carrier multiplication technique to enhance the efficiency of photovoltaic cells. The most successful architecture to-date involves sensitizing a red-absorbing photoactive layer with a blue-absorbing material that undergoes fission, thereby generating additional photocurrent from higher-energy photons. The quest for improved solar cells has spurred a drive to better understand the fission process, which has received timely aid from modern techniques for time-resolved spectroscopy, quantum chemistry, and small-molecule device fabrication. However, the consensus interpretation of the initial studies using ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy was that exciton fission was suppressed in polycrystalline thin films of pentacene, a material that would be otherwise expected to be an ideal model system, as well as a viable candidate for fission-sensitized photovoltaic devices. In this Account, we review the results of our recent transient absorption and device-based studies of polycrystalline pentacene. We address the controversy surrounding the assignment of spectroscopic features in transient absorption data, and illustrate how a consistent interpretation is possible. This work underpins our conclusion that singlet fission in pentacene is extraordinarily rapid (∼80 fs) and is thus the dominant decay channel for the photoexcited singlet exciton. Further, we discuss our demonstration that triplet excitons generated via singlet fission in pentacene can be dissociated at an interface with a suitable electron acceptor, such as fullerenes and infrared-absorbing inorganic semiconducting quantum dots. We highlight our recent reports of a pentacene/PbSe hybrid solar cell with a power conversion efficiency of 4.7% and of a pentacene/PbSe/amorphous silicon photovoltaic device. Although substantive challenges remain, both to better our understanding of the mechanism of singlet exciton fission and to optimize device performance, this realization of a solar cell where photocurrent is simultaneously contributed from a blue-absorbing fission-capable material and an infrared-absorbing conventional cell is an important step towards a dual-bandgap, single-junction, fission-enhanced photovoltaic device, which could one day surpass the Shockley-Queisser limit.

Pub.: 10 May '13, Pinned: 27 Apr '17