A New Polymer Has the Potential to Improve Solar Cell Performance.


Skoltech researchers and their colleagues have synthesized a new conjugated polymer for organic electronics using two different chemical reactions and shown the impact of the two methods on its performance in organic and perovskite solar cells. The paper was published in the journal Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics.

As the world tries to transition to clean and renewable energy, such as solar power, scientists are working on making solar cells more efficient at producing electricity. Among the promising approaches are two rapidly developing photovoltaic technologies with potential for inexpensive sustainable solar energy generation: organic solar cells and lead-halide perovskite solar cells. Their main advantage over the commercial solar cells based on crystalline silicon is the low cost of depositing the photoactive layer from solution. It makes energy production cheaper, simplifies scaling up with printing techniques and roll-to-roll manufacture, and enables device fabrication on flexible and stretchable surfaces.

However, there are several obstacles to the widespread adoption of these technologies. For one thing, the efficiency of organic solar cells still has a long way to go. This will require tweaking photoactive layer composition. In organic solar cells, the light-to-energy conversion occurs in the photoactive layer consisting of a mixture of donor and acceptor materials — the donor is usually a conjugated polymer.

As for perovskite solar cells, they have reached a spectacular 25.5% certified record efficiency, but long-term stability remains an issue. Recent research has shown that device stability can be improved by covering the photoactive perovskite material with a charge-extraction layer that provides efficient encapsulation. Among other materials, this protective function may be fulfilled by conjugated polymers, making it important to maximize their quality by improving their synthesis.

“Conjugated polymers have a variety of important applications, prompting us to investigate ways to optimize their synthesis to improve their quality, which would lead to a better performance of photovoltaic devices. Our study focuses on a particular type of conjugated polymers, which contain the isoindigo unit in the polymer chain. The findings demonstrate that between the two synthetic pathways applied for the synthesis of isoindigo-based materials, the Stille reaction should be given preference over the Suzuki reaction as the final step in the synthesis,” Skoltech PhD student Marina Tepliakova explained.

Together with Skoltech Provost Keith Stevenson and their colleagues from the RAS Institute for Problems of Chemical Physics, Marina Tepliakova synthesized a conjugated polymer based on isoindigo, an isomer of the well-known indigo dye. The team employed two… Brinkwire News Summary.


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