Low cost solar technologies are a key player in meeting growing global energy demands in a sustainable and greenhouse-friendly future. While silicon-based solar cells are familiar to most, organic solar cells are an exciting prospect because of their potential to be flexible, lightweight and compatible with low cost manufacturing methods such as printing. Their practical application is hindered, however, by technical challenges associated with reproducibility, durability and efficiency.
Now, new research has investigated how the internal structure of organic solar cells impacts their performance. Real organic solar cells are complex systems consisting of a series of pure and mixed layers, making it difficult to untangle the relationship between internal structure and important parameters such as voltage, current and efficiency. In this study, the solar cell architecture is simplified and controlled, so that even subtle changes in microstructure can be monitored and their impact on solar cell output observed. These results represent an important step forward for the development and future commercialization of this technology.