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IP Profile: Printable/Coatable Organic Solar Cells Using Carbon Nanotubes as Charge Carriers

Organic Photovoltaic (OPVs) solar cells can achieve moderate power conversion efficiencies at low cost.

S. Mitra Organization: New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT),
NJ, USA
Inventor: S. Mitra, C. Li, NJIT
Primary market: Energy
Technology contact: Carl Georgeson, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), NJ, USA

Organic Photovoltaic (OPVs) solar cells can achieve moderate power conversion efficiencies at low cost. They can be made at room temperature by high speed coating and printing of large flexible plastic substrates at the fraction of a cost compared to the conventional single crystal or amorphous silicon solar cells.

In an OPV, the solar radiation promotes the photoactive polymer to an excited state referred to as an exciton, a loosely bounded electron-hole pair. The key to OPV technology is the mechanism of effective separation and transport of these charge carriers, in absence of which the energy is wasted. The key component of the OPV developed by NJIT is a fullerene (C60)-single wall carbon nanotube (SWNT) composite. The SWNTs offers superior electron transport properties, while the spherical C60 buckyball is extremely efficient at separating photo-generated charge carriers. The charge partitioning at the polymer/C60 interface is followed by efficient electron transport through the nanotubes; together these lead to higher efficiency. Developments to date include technology (and IP) related to carbon nanotube purification, functionalization, and the chemistry related to the synthesis of the C60-SWNT complex used in the OPV fabrication. Prototype OPVs are routinely fabricated in the laboratory.

Mr. Carl Georgeson, Manager of NJIT’s Office of Technology Development, tells NWN, “Immediately following our presentation at TechConnect 2008, we were contacted by a member of the National Advisory Council for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), who arranged for us to visit NREL’s facilities in Golden, CO. The technology continues to be featured in various reports on solar technology. More recently, we have been contacted by a leading defense/space contractor with whom we are now beginning conversations under NDA.”

Additional Reference:
NJIT Press Release on the technology: http://www.njit.edu/news/2007/2007-265.php

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