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SYLVANIA LED Luminaires and Retrofit Kits
ORGANIC SOLAR CELLS are typically less
efficient than traditional solar cells. This
new process evens the playing field.
Efficiency of Organic
NEW PROCESSES SUGGEST OPPORTUNITIES
FOR CHEAPER SOLAR CELLS
Despite their affordability, abundance and lower environmental impact,
organic solar cells have struggled to convert as much electricity as traditional cells.
However, a new study featured in Physical
Review Letters suggests a solution that
could boost organic solar cell efficiency.
Scientists of the Center for Computational
Study of Excited-State Phenomena in
Energy Materials (C2SEPEM) at the
Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory have found the source
of a faster and more efficient energy car-
rying process. The process creates multiple
carriers of electrical charge from one light
particle in organic crystals important in
these solar cells.
This process, referred to as “singlet fission,” can improve organic solar cell efficiency by converting energy from sunlight
to electrical charges more quickly. Previous
iterations of these cells would lose the
energy to heat.
“We actually discovered a new mechanism that allows us to try to design better
materials,” says Steven G. Louie, Director of
The singlet fission process is similar to
nuclear fission. It involves splitting atomic
nuclei to create two lighter atoms from a
heavier one. During the splitting process,
the material can carry twice as much charge
and avoid energy loss.
“There’s a lot we still don’t understand
about the fundamental physics of this process in crystalline materials that we are hoping to shed more light on,” says Jeffrey B.
Neaton, Associate Director of C2SEPEM.
“The computational method that we
developed is very predictive, and we used
it to understand singlet fission in a new
way that may allow us to design materials
even more efficient at harvesting light, for
Past efforts had focused on a few mol-
ecules in the material but had oversimplified
the process of singlet fission. This study takes
a greater view of the material’s structure.
The main challenge now is to determine
how to apply the findings to real-world applications on a large scale. Nevertheless, the
increased understanding of the process suggests that this will occur sooner than later.