Solar panels are eco-friendly, but at the same time – very expensive. Scientists have found them an alternative – a polymer solar cell.
A man, who is interested in solar power, well imagines what is a solar cell – a collection of numerous solar cells, mounted on some surface.
The solar cell is a semiconductor device that converts solar energy into electric current. Photovoltaics “traditional” solar cells are made of silicon. The manufacturing process of such panels is complicated and very expensive. Although that silicon is a very common element and that the Earth’s crust contains about 20% of silica, the process of transformation of the starting sand into a high-purity silicon is very complex and expensive.
Furthermore, often arise problems with disposal of used photocells, because these solar cells contain cadmium in addition to silicon. This led scientists to look for more efficient ways to convert solar energy.
An alternative to silicon solar cell can become a polymer solar cell. This new technology. Dozens of research institutes and companies around the world are working on the development of it.
Polymer photocell – a film which is composed of an active layer (polymer), aluminum electrodes, a flexible organic substrate and protective layer.
Advantages of polymer solar cells in comparison with conventional crystalline: compactness, light weight, flexibility. Such batteries inexpensive to produce (for their manufacture do not use expensive silicon) and are environmentally friendly as they have on the environment less significant effect.
The one disadvantage – conversion efficiency of solar energy of polymer solar cells is very low. This disadvantage limits the creation of such panels at the level of prototype models.
Currently, the highest efficiency of polymer solar cells have achieved Alan J. Heeger from center of polymer and organic solids of the University of California at Santa Barbara (he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery and development of conductive polymers) and Kvanhe Lee from Korea Institute of science and technology in Guangzhou.
Their solar cell has an efficiency of 6.5% at light of 0.2 watts per square centimeter. This is the highest level achieved for solar cells made from organic materials. And although the best silicon solar cells have an efficiency of 40%, however many people are very interested in polymer batteries.