A new world record has been set for organic solar cells, with an efficiency of 12% achieved by Heliatek, University of Ulm and TU Dresden. To boot, the cells have proven to have excellent performance in both low light and high temperature situations compared to other solutions
The 12.0% record cell on a standard size of 1.1 cm² combines two patented absorber materials, which convert light of different wavelengths. Using two different absorber materials creates a stronger absorption of photons and improves energetic utilization through a higher photovoltage.Thanks to OPV’s unique behavior at high temperatures and low light conditions, this 12% efficiency is comparable to about 14% to 15% efficiency for traditional solar technologies like crystalline silicon and thin film PV. Whereas those technologies significantly lose cell efficiency with rising temperatures and decreasing solar irradiation, organic cells increase their efficiency in these conditions leading to a much higher energy harvesting in real life environments.
Helitek hopes to reach 15% by 2015, and their solar film is extraordinarily thin — only twice the thickness of human DNA. This allows the stacking of cells on top of each other to be tuned to different wavelengths of light. Organic solar film has the advantage of being able to be deployed on pillars and other non-rooftop type locations. With a year of commercial production under their belts, could the next house built in your neighborhood also power half of it?