Which materials work best for solar? NCSU scientists lay out framework for discovery

Jan 12, 2021 02:58 PM ET
  • North Carolina State University-led researchers have created a logical dimension "structure" which can allow organic solar cell researchers as well as manufacturers to identify which products will generate one of the most stable solar cells before manufacture.
Which materials work best for solar? NCSU scientists lay out framework for discovery
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Organic solar cells have actually enhanced in effectiveness over the past decades, yet researchers as well as makers still have problem with identifying which material combinations function best and also why, in addition to with achieving stable morphology and procedure.

" There is still a lot of 'trial and error' guesswork involved in recognizing encouraging materials for these solar cells," states Harald Ade, Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Professor of Physics at NC State as well as co-corresponding author of the research. "However, we discovered that if you comprehend two crucial specifications for the products being made use of, you can anticipate exactly how secure the active layer morphology will certainly be, which in turn impacts effectiveness in time."

The specifications concerned are the flexible modulus and also glass change-- essentially exactly how tight the material is and at what temperature level the product transitions from an inflexible state to a rubbery or thick fluid state.

" The most efficient solar cells are composed of a blend of products that typically have inadequate miscibility," states Brendan O'Connor, associate professor of mechanical as well as aerospace engineering at NC State and co-corresponding author of the research study. "Ideally, these blends need to be blended throughout construction to an optimized structure, yet with time they can divide or diffuse into domain names that are as well pure, which leads to tool deterioration.

" We wished to recognize what drives this instability in structure. We found that the molecular communications that fundamentally drive diffusion behavior could be captured with the 'proxy-parameters' of elastic modulus and glass transition temperature level."

The team, led by NC State postdoctoral scientist Masoud Ghasemi, used second ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), to measure the diffusion actions of tiny molecules into a pure polymer layer. They also made use of differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), as well as a wrinkling assessment strategy to gauge the glass transition and also flexible modulus of a variety of materials that are typically used in organic solar cells.

On the whole, the team found that the most stable natural solar cells included a small particle with a high glass change temperature level and also a polymer with a huge elastic modulus; simply put, an extremely inflexible product.

" The more inflexible products likewise have the most affordable intrinsic miscibility," Ghasemi says. "Surprisingly, this means that the materials that do not such as to blend have the lowest diffusion when forced to do so, leading to the most steady solar cells."

" Our findings are rather instinctive," Ade states, "yet locating that there is a quantitative partnership between elastic modulus, glass transition and the molecular interactions inside these materials enables us to capture communication forces at a regional degree, anticipating security in these systems without needing experimentation."

The research shows up in Nature Materials as well as was sustained in part by the Workplace of Naval Research Study and also the National Science Foundation. Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Church Hill, the University of Kentucky, Imperial College London and also the University of Oxford, U.K., likewise added to the job.