Ultrasonic Spray Technology Used in Low Cost Production of Polymeric Solar Cells Still 2022


Ultrasonic Spray Technology Used in Low Cost Production of Polymeric Solar Cells

Still 2022
advancesolar.net

Polymeric solar cells may be one of the more promising low cost means of converting solar irradiation to electricity. Means to bring down the cost of manufacturing and improve performance of polymeric based solar cells has been tested using ultrasonic spray nozzle technology.

Polymeric solar cells produce electricity by means of active organic layers. Polymeric based solar cells utilize electrically conductive polymers, which can be less costly than crystalline silicon based systems. Moreover, these polymers can be deposited onto solar cells using a variety of methods each of which determine the potential cost of manufacturing and performance of the polymeric solar cell.

In a joint study with the Colorado School of Mines, National Center for Photovoltaics and National Renewable Energy Laboratory; ink jet printing, airbrush sprays, ultrasonic sprays, slot coating and screen coating were analyzed with respect to their efficiency and performance. Of all these methods, ultrasonic spray technology showed the most promising results.

Ultrasonic spray technology not only proved to be cost-effective but also produced a uniform coating of photoconductive agents. Functionally, ultrasonic spray technology works by means of ultrasonically atomizing film coatings into highly uniform, evenly shaped and spaced droplets that are controllably deposited onto a substrate. In this study, ultrasonic spray nozzles deposited droplets of 18μm, easily building a film to the desired thickness. The material tested was a liquid solution of poly (3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) and [6,6] phenyl-C61 butyric-methyl ester (PCBM) in either chlorobenzene or p-xylene used as carrier solvents. This coating was deposited onto layers of poly (3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)-polystyrene sulfonate (PEDOT: PSS), Indium-tin oxide (ITO) and glass.

The reactions of a bulk-heterojunction P3HT: PCBM thin films spray with chlorobenzene or p-xylene as a solvent were recorded with the help of x-ray diffraction, optical microscopy and other devices. These solvents bear almost identical properties but resulted in different outcomes. In order to evaluate the implications of these reactions, their power-generation efficacy was tested. Interestingly, chlorobenzene film displayed an efficiency of 3%, which upon adding additional chlorobenzene layers upon the active layer, increased the rate to 3.2%. P-xylene, conversely produced a very low efficiency power production of about 0.1%. This figure was attributed to the gap between P3HT and PCBM and would not improve by spraying additional layers of P-xylene.

Results of this study suggest ultrasonic spray technology shows promise in the potential low cost scalability of organic based polymeric solar cells. It was shown solvent selection has a large impact on outcomes as well as the processing conditions for proper film build. The authors suggest that future studies focus on how to modify surface roughness and further fine-tuning of solvent blends to achieve more efficient cells.

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