Research highlight

Efficient small-molecule solar cells

Nature Materials

November 7, 2011

Solution-processed small-molecule solar cells with power conversion efficiencies of 6.7% are reported online this week in Nature Materials. The performance of these devices rivals that of the best polymer-based solar cells, and they have the potential be mass-produced with better reliability.

Organic bulk heterojunction solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity, are based on organic semiconductor blends. The possibility to deposit organic semiconductors by solution-based processes such as printing makes these materials potentially attractive for the mass production of flexible large-area photovoltaic devices. The most efficient organic bulk heterojunction solar cells today are fabricated using semiconducting polymers. Owing to the synthesis process, such polymers can show larger batch-to-batch variations in composition and device performance than small molecules.

Through careful molecular design, Guillermo Bazan and colleagues developed a small-molecule semiconductor that can be solution processed into efficient bulk heterojunction solar cells. The performance of these devices approaches that of the best polymer-based solar cells.

doi: 10.1038/nmat3160

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