A transparent future

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Wednesday 23rd October 2013

A glimpse of the future of BPIV transparent PV has being shown by a team at the Institute of Photonic Sciences. High power conversion of new solar cells that are thin, flexible, and transparent make them ideal for a wealth of new applications.

Cell color may be tuned by changing the layer configuration of the photonic crystal.
In a recent study carried out in the group led by Prof. Jordi Martorell and published in Nature Photonics, researchers have fabricated semi-transparent Organic Photovoltaic (OPV) cells utilizing a light-trapping layered architecture to obtain an optimal light harvesting.

In general, solar cells achieve their maximum light to electricity conversion with opaque devices. When thinning the back metal electrode to just a few nanometers to turn opaque cells into semi-transparent ones, the device’s capacity to collect sunlight is dramatically diminished. ICFO researchers implemented a semi-transparent cell incorporating a photonic crystal to trap near infrared and ultraviolet light while reaching a cell performance almost as good as its opaque counterpart. The combined high levels of efficiency and transparency make these cells an extremely competitive product for Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPVs). To reach the adequate architectural look, the color of the cells may be tuned by simply changing the layer configuration of the photonic crystal.

A recently approved European project entitled SOLPROCEL will allow a consortium of top European researchers and industries led by ICFO to boost the study of the capabilities of these cells, improving their stability and lifetimes as well as obtaining the material needed to substantially raise their efficiency.
New photovoltaic architectures and materials will be investigated in the framework of Solprocel to improve the efficiency and functionality of organic cells.

Solution Processed High Performance Transparent Organic Photovoltaic Cells (SOLPROCEL) is a new European project which will be coordinated by UPC Professor at ICFO, Jordi Martorell. The inspiration for this project came when COMSA EMTE and ICFO realized the potential of an organic photovoltaic (OPV) based technology for incorporation in transparent modules to generate electricity. However there are still many challenges which must be overcome before OPV technology is ripe for module production.

In SOLPROCEL, companies will be guided by three research institutions which can provide complementary know-how in three of the fundamental aspects of OPV technology: nano-fabrication, light management, and organic synthesis. The project has quantifiable goals for obtaining the material needed for fully solution-processed high performance transparent OPV cells, in order to dramatically raise the efficiency of such cells.

Organizations participating in this project:

ICFO (Coordinator), SPAIN

Friedrich-Alexander Universität (FAU), GERMANY

Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polmer Research (FhG-IAP), GERMANY

Specific Polymers (SP), FRANCE


Nanograde Ltd, SWITZERLAND

Rent-a-Scientist, GERMANY



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