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Organic photovoltaic module hits 5.5% efficiency

Imec and chemicals company Solvay have announced an organic photovoltaic module with a certified efficiency of 5.5% from an aperture area of 16cm2.

The achievement is described as a crucial step towards upscaling the production process and successful commercialisation of organic photovoltaic cells.

The module featured a novel inverted bulk heterojunction architecture developed by imec in close collaboration with Solvay and a proprietary ActivInk semiconductor from Polyera.

The attraction of organic solar cells is their potential for integration into building facades and windows, due to their optical translucency and ability to be manufactured on large areas at high throughput. While the efficiency of organic solar cells is less dependent on the intensity and the angle of the incoming light, an industrial process needs to be developed and their performance and lifetime need to be improved.

The partners reported ‘encouraging’ efficiency results at the cell level in 2011 and have since developed a process in which inverted bulk heterojunction solar cells can be integrated into a module that uses 95% of the aperture area to generate electricity.

Tom Aernouts, R&D group leader of organic photovoltaics at imec, noted: “We are excited to have achieved these excellent results at module level. They are an important step towards upscaling organic solar cell technology to high volume production. With further device and module structure optimisations and optimisation of the cell’s photoactive material, we will continue increasing efficiency and lifetime, which are essential advancements for developing an industry relevant technology for organic solar cells.”

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