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Printed Thin Film Photovoltaics Research Group

  Solar cell converts solar energy to electricity, and is one of the most reliable technologies for solar energy utilization. The G1 Silicon and G2 thin film solar cells are the most widely used ones in photovoltaic market. However, relative high production cost as well as the rigidity of these cells limit the application of these cells in certain situation. New generation nano thin film solar cells based on organic and hybrid semiconductors possess advantages of low-cost, light weight, colorful appearance, and printing process compatible, and are considered to be the most promising alternatives for traditional photovoltaics in applications of consumer electronics, sensors for internet of things, building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), PV farms and agricultures. 

  Printing, flexibility, and semitransparency are the three key advantages for this new photovoltaic technology. Aiming at the realization of low-cost photovoltaics, the printed thin film photovoltaics research group focuses their research on materials and inks development, device architecture optimization, printing processes establishing as well as the total solution for device stability improvement. Detailed research activities of the group include:

  1. Material development and ink formulation.
Aiming to reduce the cost of conjugated polymer, we developed a C-H direct polymerization method to the desired polymer. Various catalysis as well as the coupling condition was optimized. 

  In the meanwhile, we developed organic-inorganic hybrid composite materials for use in printed PV as the electrode buffer layer. The concept of nanocomposite materials improves both printability (with larger printing window) and stability of the inks.

  2. Structure optimization of flexible photovoltaics.

  Ag nano-wire or nano-grid electrode based on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the excellent transparent electrode for flexible PVs. However, the interfacial connection between Ag electrode and the photoactive layer is different to the ITO-photoactive layer. By carefully optimization on the interface layer, flexible organic and perovskite solar cells were obtained with high performance.

  3. Printing processes for printed photovoltaics.

  Printing top metal electrode is the key technology for the realization of fully printed PVs. There are two key challenges: one is the printable metal inks for this purpose and the other one is the solvent corrosion of the ink during printing. After a systematically investigation, we have successfully developed silver inks for use in organic and perovskite solar cells. With that we have achieved semi-transparent organic solar cells with efficiency of more than 5%, and a high efficiency of 14.2% for perovskite solar cells, demonstrating the possibility of fully printed organic and hybrid solar cells.

  4. Degradation understanding and stability improvement

  Intrinsic stability of organic and perovskite solar cells determines the lifetime of these cells in real application. Based on the nano-thin film stability investigation platform in PERC, we are able to investigate the degradation behavior of organic and perovskite solar cells under simulated working condition. With this important understanding, we have successfully find a solution to improve the lifetime of organic solar cells. In addition, we are also interested in in-suit encapsulation for the flexible photovoltaics.

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