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!
Abstract: We discuss possible improvements in the efficiency of dye-sensitized photovoltaic cells using dyes capable of singlet fission into two triplets, thus producing two electron-hole pairs from a single photon. It is pointed out that, in addition to derivatives of large alternant hydrocarbons, those of biradicals are also likely candidates for a favorable ordering of excited-state energy levels, E(T2), E(S1) > 2E(T1). A large number of potentially favorable structures has been examined by the semiempirical Pariser-Parr-Pople method and some also by the time-dependent density functional theory method. Several likely candidates have been identified for experimental examination.
Pub.: 21 Dec '06, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
Abstract: A survey is provided of recent progress in the understanding of singlet fission, a spin-allowed process in which a singlet excited molecule shares its energy with a ground-state neighbor to produce two triplet excited molecules. It has been observed to occur in single-crystal, polycrystalline, and amorphous solids, on timescales from 80 fs to 25 ps, producing triplet yields as high as 200%. Photovoltaic devices using the effect have shown external quantum efficiencies in excess of 100%. Almost all the efficient materials are alternant hydrocarbons of the acene series or their simple derivatives, and it is argued that a wider structural variety would be desirable. The current state of the development of molecular structure design rules, based on first-principles theoretical considerations, is described along with initial examples of implementation.
Pub.: 10 Jan '13, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
Abstract: Investigations of singlet fission have accelerated recently because of its potential utility in solar photoconversion, although only a few reports definitively identify the role of singlet fission in a complete solar cell. Evidence of the influence of singlet fission in a dye-sensitized solar cell using 1,3-diphenylisobenzofuran (DPIBF, 1) as the sensitizer is reported here. Self-assembly of the blue-absorbing 1 with co-adsorbed oxidation products on mesoporous TiO2 yields a cell with a peak internal quantum efficiency of ∼70% and a power conversion efficiency of ∼1.1%. Introducing a ZrO2 spacer layer of thickness varying from 2 to 20 Å modulates the short-circuit photocurrent such that it is initially reduced as thickness increases but 1 with 10-15 Å of added ZrO2. This rise can be explained as being due to a reduced rate of injection of electrons from the S1 state of 1 such that singlet fission, known to occur with a 30 ps time constant in polycrystalline films, has the opportunity to proceed efficiently and produce two T1 states per absorbed photon that can subsequently inject electrons into TiO2. Transient spectroscopy and kinetic simulations confirm this novel mode of dye-sensitized solar cell operation and its potential utility for enhanced solar photoconversion.
Pub.: 22 Jan '15, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
Abstract: Molecular materials afford abundant flexibility in the tunability of physical and electronic properties. As such, they are ideally suited to engineering low-cost, flexible, light-harvesting materials that break away from the single-threshold paradigm. Single-threshold solar cells are capable of harvesting a maximum of 33.7% of incident sunlight, whereas two-threshold cells are capable of energy harvesting efficiencies exceeding 45%. In this Perspective, we provide the theoretical background with which upper efficiency limits for various multiple-threshold solar cell architectures may be calculated and review and discuss various reports that employ processes such as triplet-triplet annihilation and singlet fission in multiple-threshold devices comprised of molecular materials.
Pub.: 13 Aug '15, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
Abstract: Singlet exciton fission transforms a molecular singlet excited state into two triplet states, each with half the energy of the original singlet. In solar cells, it could potentially double the photocurrent from high-energy photons. We demonstrate organic solar cells that exploit singlet exciton fission in pentacene to generate more than one electron per incident photon in a portion of the visible spectrum. Using a fullerene acceptor, a poly(3-hexylthiophene) exciton confinement layer, and a conventional optical trapping scheme, we show a peak external quantum efficiency of (109 ± 1)% at wavelength λ = 670 nanometers for a 15-nanometer-thick pentacene film. The corresponding internal quantum efficiency is (160 ± 10)%. Analysis of the magnetic field effect on photocurrent suggests that the triplet yield approaches 200% for pentacene films thicker than 5 nanometers.
Pub.: 20 Apr '13, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
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
Abstract: Singlet fission, in which an initially excited singlet state spontaneously splits into a pair of triplet excitons, is a process that can potentially boost the efficiency of solar energy conversion. The separate electronic bands in organic semiconductors make them especially useful for dividing a high-energy singlet exciton into a pair of lower-energy triplet excitons. Recent experiments illustrate the role of spin coherence in fission, while kinetic models are used to describe how triplet and singlet states interact on longer time scales. Despite insights gained from recent experiments, the detailed structure and dynamics of the electronic states involved in the initial step of singlet fission remain active areas of investigation. On longer time scales, finding ways to efficiently harvest the triplet excitons will be an important challenge for making devices based on this phenomenon. A full understanding of singlet fission requires consideration of a sequence of photophysical events (decoherence, relaxation, and diffusion) occurring on different time scales.
Pub.: 19 Aug '15, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
Abstract: The ability to upconvert two low energy photons into one high energy photon has potential applications in solar energy, biological imaging, and data storage. In this Letter, CdSe and PbSe semiconductor nanocrystals are combined with molecular emitters (diphenylanthracene and rubrene) to upconvert photons in both the visible and the near-infrared spectral regions. Absorption of low energy photons by the nanocrystals is followed by energy transfer to the molecular triplet states, which then undergo triplet-triplet annihilation to create high energy singlet states that emit upconverted light. By using conjugated organic ligands on the CdSe nanocrystals to form an energy cascade, the upconversion process could be enhanced by up to 3 orders of magnitude. The use of different combinations of nanocrystals and emitters shows that this platform has great flexibility in the choice of both excitation and emission wavelengths.
Pub.: 15 Jul '15, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
Abstract: Singlet exciton fission is an efficient multiexciton generation process in organic molecules. But two concerns must be satisfied before it can be exploited in low-cost solution-processed organic solar cells. Fission must be combined with longer wavelength absorption in a structure that can potentially surpass the single junction limit, and its efficiency must be demonstrated in nanoscale domains within blended devices. Here, we report organic solar cells comprised of tetracene, copper phthalocyanine, and the buckyball C(60). Short wavelength light generates singlet excitons in tetracene. These are subsequently split into two triplet excitons and transported through the phthalocyanine. In addition, the phthalocyanine absorbs photons below the singlet exciton energy of tetracene. To test tetracene in nanostructured blends, we fabricate coevaporated bulk heterojunctions and multilayer heterojunctions of tetracene and C(60). We measure a singlet fission efficiency of (71 ± 18)%, demonstrating that exciton fission can efficiently compete with exciton dissociation on the nanoscale.
Pub.: 02 Mar '11, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
Abstract: Triplet excitons are ubiquitous in organic optoelectronics, but they are often an undesirable energy sink because they are spin-forbidden from emitting light and their high binding energy hinders the generation of free electron-hole pairs. Harvesting their energy is consequently an important technological challenge. Here, we demonstrate direct excitonic energy transfer from 'dark' triplets in the organic semiconductor tetracene to colloidal PbS nanocrystals, thereby successfully harnessing molecular triplet excitons in the near infrared. Steady-state excitation spectra, supported by transient photoluminescence studies, demonstrate that the transfer efficiency is at least (90 ± 13)%. The mechanism is a Dexter hopping process consisting of the simultaneous exchange of two electrons. Triplet exciton transfer to nanocrystals is expected to be broadly applicable in solar and near-infrared light-emitting applications, where effective molecular phosphors are lacking at present. In particular, this route to 'brighten' low-energy molecular triplet excitons may permit singlet exciton fission sensitization of conventional silicon solar cells.
Pub.: 06 Oct '14, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
Abstract: We demonstrate an organic/inorganic hybrid photovoltaic device architecture that uses singlet exciton fission to permit the collection of two electrons per absorbed high-energy photon while simultaneously harvesting low-energy photons. In this solar cell, infrared photons are absorbed using lead sulfide (PbS) nanocrystals. Visible photons are absorbed in pentacene to create singlet excitons, which undergo rapid exciton fission to produce pairs of triplets. Crucially, we identify that these triplet excitons can be ionized at an organic/inorganic heterointerface. We report internal quantum efficiencies exceeding 50% and power conversion efficiencies approaching 1%. These findings suggest an alternative route to circumvent the Shockley-Queisser limit on the power conversion efficiency of single-junction solar cells.
Pub.: 20 Jan '12, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
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
Abstract: The decay and transport of triplet excitons photogenerated via singlet exciton fission in polycrystalline and single-crystalline pentacene is reported. Using transient absorption spectroscopy, we find evidence for diffusion-mediated triplet-triplet annihilation. We estimate monomolecular lifetimes, bimolecular annihilation rate constants, and triplet exciton diffusion lengths. We discuss these results in the context of current solar cell device architectures.
Pub.: 01 Jan '14, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
Abstract: The efficient transfer of energy between organic and inorganic semiconductors is a widely sought after property, but has so far been limited to the transfer of spin-singlet excitons. Here we report efficient resonant-energy transfer of molecular spin-triplet excitons from organic semiconductors to inorganic semiconductors. We use ultrafast optical absorption spectroscopy to track the dynamics of triplets, generated in pentacene through singlet exciton fission, at the interface with lead selenide (PbSe) nanocrystals. We show that triplets transfer to PbSe rapidly (<1 ps) and efficiently, with 1.9 triplets transferred for every photon absorbed in pentacene, but only when the bandgap of the nanocrystals is close to resonance (±0.2 eV) with the triplet energy. Following triplet transfer, the excitation can undergo either charge separation, allowing photovoltaic operation, or radiative recombination in the nanocrystal, enabling luminescent harvesting of triplet exciton energy in light-emitting structures.
Pub.: 06 Oct '14, Pinned: 27 Apr '17
Abstract: Singlet exciton fission-sensitized solar cells have the potential to exceed the Shockley-Queisser limit by generating additional photocurrent from high-energy photons. Pentacene is an organic semiconductor that undergoes efficient singlet fission--the conversion of singlet excitons into pairs of triplets. However, the pentacene triplet is non-emissive, and uncertainty regarding its energy has hindered device design. Here we present an in situ measurement of the pentacene triplet energy by fabricating a series of bilayer solar cells with infrared-absorbing nanocrystals of varying bandgaps. We show that the pentacene triplet energy is at least 0.85 eV and at most 1.00 eV in operating devices. Our devices generate photocurrent from triplets, and achieve external quantum efficiencies up to 80%, and power conversion efficiencies of 4.7%. This establishes the general use of nanocrystal size series to measure the energy of non-emissive excited states, and suggests that fission-sensitized solar cells are a favourable candidate for third-generation photovoltaics.
Pub.: 23 Aug '12, Pinned: 27 Apr '17