A theoretical approach to design electron acceptors for bulk hetero junction solar cells

TitleA theoretical approach to design electron acceptors for bulk hetero junction solar cells
Publication TypeArticolo su Rivista peer-reviewed
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsMorvillo, P., and Bobeico E.
JournalInternational Journal of Energy, Environment and Economics
KeywordsAbsorption, Design, electron, energy efficiency, fullerene, light, photovoltaic system, polymer, power generation, solar power, theoretical study

A promising approach to decrease the cost of photovoltaic devices, mainly made with inorganic materials, is the fabrication of solar cells based on organic semiconductors, like semiconducting polymers. During the last years new polymers have been prepared and tested as donor materials in solar cells with the aim to improve the light absorption and the efficiency of the corresponding devices. Actually, power conversion efficiencies surpassing 5% have been demonstrated for polymer-fullerene solar cells, but to use these devices in commercial applications this value need to be increased further; in addition other aspects, like the large area processing and the lifetime also need to be improved. The power conversion efficiency for a solar cell is directly proportional to the short circuit current (Isc) and to the open circuit voltage (Voc). The maximum Voc for polymer solar cells is related to the difference between the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) of the electron donor and the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) of the electron acceptor. In addition, even the relative position of donor LUMO and acceptor LUMO is fundamental for an efficient charge transfer from the donor polymer to the acceptor fullerene. In this paper we will briefly introduce the basic working principles of polymer solar cells (materials, device architecture, device physics, efficiency limits). Next we focused our attention on the properties of the most used electron acceptors, namely the fullerenes, and we implemented a theoretical approach to design fullerene derivatives to be used as electron acceptors in polymer solar cells. We calculated the LUMO levels of fullerene derivatives successfully used as electron acceptors and we correlated the calculated values with the Voc of the corresponding devices. Furthermore, we investigated the possibility to tune the LUMO level varying the side group attached to the fullerene cage. © 2009 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.


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