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Polymer Solar Cells

Like photoelectrochemical solar cells and nanocrystal solar cells, polymer solar cells are third generation solar cells. Third generation solar cells are more evolved from first and second generation solar cells because they do not rely on traditional p-n junctions to separate electrons from their charge carriers.

Polymer solar cells function in the same way as other solar cells, converting sunlight into electricity. Like plastic, foil, and carbon solar cells, it is an alternative to expensive and complex silicon cell production. Polymer solar cells are flexible and their production costs are about a third of the price of silicon cell manufacturing. Polymer solar cells are also disposable and can be designed on a molecular level in the following manner.

A solar cell is constructed when fullerenes, or molecules comprised solely of carbon, are injected into polymer. Then, as visible light moves from the polymer chain to a fullerene molecule, electrons are liberated from their macromolecular structure, producing an electrical charge. The process, however, is slow, and present polymer cell efficiency is at a low 5 percent. Polymer solar cells are also known to degrade over time, decreasing in efficiency due to environmental effects. It is believed that polymer cell efficiency can be doubled in the near future, and the environmental effects will be less wearing with the development of high quality protective coatings.

Polymer solar cells are similar to plastic solar cells in that plastic, or an organic polymer, is fused with an organic molecule functioning as an electron acceptor. Given their potential, it is no wonder polymer solar cells are being researched so extensively in laboratories throughout the scientific world. For the time being, find out more about solar cells and solar energy for your own practical use at our solar energy portal.

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