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Advances in Molecular Engineering and Nanotechnology Expected to Make Organic Solar Cells more Viable than Silicon-based Cells

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Published on : Feb 18, 2016

Solar power generation is undoubtedly one of the most researched fields presently. The promise of cleaner and sustainable form of energy, from a resource that will exist until the universe ceases to exist, makes the field one of the most popular fields for investment, from both corporate as well as public finances. Researchers are constantly involved in design and manufacturing of solar cells with increasing level of sophistication and efficiency, prices of products are constantly coming down owing to the intervention of governments in the form of subsidies for manufacturers as well as customers, and photovoltaic installations are on a constant rise across the globe.

One of the most promising segments of the global solar power generation market is that of organic solar cells.

Organic solar cells are the photovoltaics that use carbon-compound based materials instead of silicon, which is the primary component of conventional photovoltaic cells. Recent developments in the fields of molecular engineering suggest that if correctly utilized, several organic materials can make photovoltaic cells much more efficient than the conventional silicon-based solar cells.
It has been found that organic solar cells can be easily manufactured owing to the molecular structure of materials being used as compared to silicon-based cells. Organic molecules are also easier to work with and can be used with substrates that are over a 1,000 times thinner as compared to silicon cells. This simple fact can in itself lead to a significant reduction in the production cost of solar cells.

Organic materials used in organic solar cells are also highly compatible with a large number of varieties of substrates, making their production method highly versatile. All the major production methods of organic materials consumer low energy and have low temperature demand as compared to conventional silicon-based cells, which can easily and substantially reduce cost factor of the final product.

One of the other major advantages of organic materials is their capability of tailoring their molecular properties so as to fit the target application. Advances in molecular engineering have made things like generating charges, changing bandgap, molecular mass, etc. of organic materials.