April 13, 2009--Research on organic solar cells has focused mainly on increasing conversion efficiency in recent years. But operational lifetime also needs improvement. And so Cytec Industries Inc. (Woodland Park, NJ), producer of specialty chemicals and materials, has teamed up with IMEC (Leuven, Belgium), an independent nanoelectronics research institute to extend organic solar cell lifetime beyond 5 years. The partners will work together to develop a commercially viable technology for organic photovoltaic devices with enhanced stability and extended operation.
The partners will approach the intrinsic stability issues by stabilizing the nanomorphology of the solar cells' active material blend. IMEC says it has already shown that the photo-active blend of conjugated polymers and fullerene acceptor molecules is prone to phase segregation under the influence of time and temperature. To halt this, IMEC and Cytec will focus on chemical synthesis and materials processing.
Concurrently, the partners will develop an appropriate barrier/encapsulation technology to suppress the ingress of extrinsic degradation sources of oxygen and water vapor.
The technology solutions will build on Cytec's core competencies of interfacial engineering and coating technology and on IMEC's background in organic solar cell processing and analysis. The project, which is co-sponsored by the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology (Flanders, Belgium) will run for two years and will end in March, 2011.
"We are convinced that Cytec's capabilities in coatings, adhesives, inks and energy curing technology combined with IMEC's outstanding processing and technology capabilities will make this project a success," said Cytec's Specialty Chemicals Vice President of R&D, Martin Court.
IMEC's Program Director Photovoltaics, Jef Poortmans, added: "Organic solar cell technology is one of the most exciting emerging technologies for low-cost photovoltaic cells. IMEC is very pleased to have the opportunity to combine its process technology expertise with the excellent skills of Cytec in the field of synthesis and coatings to address the crucial issue of device stability and encapsulation".