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The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2018-07-02 13:05:12
  • Article ID: 696936

Adding an Inert Polymer to Plastic Solar Cells Enables High Efficiency and Easy Production

  • Credit: Stony Brook University

    Adding an inert polymer component in plastic solar cells – as visualized by the arrows in this image -- creates a unique columnar morphology and enables increased optimal device thickness, which is much better suited for the industrial production of solar cells by low-cost solution coating methods.

Adding an Inert Polymer to Plastic Solar Cells Enables High Efficiency and Easy Production

STONY BROOK, N.Y., July 2, 2018 -- Polymer plastic solar cells remain an industry priority because of their light weight, flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Now scientists from Stony Brook University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) have demonstrated that these types of solar cells can be more efficient and have more stability based on new research findings.

Led by Miriam Rafailovich, PhD, a Distinguished Professor at Stony Brook University, and Chang-Yong Nam, PhD, a scientist at BNL and Adjunct Professor at Stony Brook, the research team discovered that by adding a common inert polymer, called polystyrene, these solar cells undergo an optimized internal morphology, resulting in a higher device performance.

The discovery solves a problem with polymer plastic solar cells. Most of these cells require an additive included for high device performance – a non-active small chain molecule to control internal morphology. But the additive is known to cause stability problems under light and heat, thus compromising performance and efficiency.

The new study, published in Advanced Materials Interfaces, demonstrates that replacing the additive with the inert polymer potentially solves this problem. In a previously published paper in Nanoscale, the researchers used a similar approach, but, with a different polymer.

This earlier work illustrated that a newly engineered polymer plastic solar cell increases optimal thickness – a quality that is better suited for industrial production by low-cost coating methods. The significance of this result was featured on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) website.

The ongoing investigation of these polymer plastic solar cells is taking place at Stony Brook’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center and BNL’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials, a DOE Office of Science User Facility. The work is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the DOE.

 

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About Stony Brook University  Stony Brook University is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become a flagship as one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 26,000 students and 2,600 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 50 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $4.6 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.

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Theorists Publish Highest-Precision Prediction of Muon Magnetic Anomaly

UPTON, NY--Theoretical physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Brookhaven National Laboratory and their collaborators have just released the most precise prediction of how subatomic particles called muons--heavy cousins of electrons--"wobble" off their path in a powerful magnetic field.

How Gold Nanoparticles Could Improve Solar Energy Storage

Star-shaped gold nanoparticles, coated with a semiconductor, can produce hydrogen from water over four times more efficiently than other methods - opening the door to improved storage of solar energy and other advances that could boost renewable energy use and combat climate change, according to Rutgers University-New Brunswick researchers.

National Ignition Facility Sets New Energy Record

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser system has set a new record, firing 2.15 megajoules (MJ) of energy to its target chamber - a 15 percent improvement over NIF's design specification of 1.8 MJ, and more than 10 percent higher than the previous 1.9 MJ energy record set in March 2012. Increasing NIF's energy limit will expand the parameter space for stockpile stewardship experiments and provide a significant boost to the pursuit of ignition.

Generating Electrical Power From Waste Heat

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories have developed a tiny silicon-based device that can harness what was previously called waste heat and turn it into DC power.

Extracting Signals of Elusive Particles from Giant Chambers Filled with Liquefied Argon

In two new papers, the MicroBooNE collaboration describes how they use this detector to pick up the telltale signs of neutrinos. The papers include details of the signal processing algorithms that are critical to accurately reconstruct neutrinos' subtle interactions with atoms in the detector.

SLAC's Ultra-High-Speed 'Electron Camera' Catches Molecules at a Crossroads

An extremely fast "electron camera" at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has produced the most detailed atomic movie of the decisive point where molecules hit by light can either stay intact or break apart. The results could lead to a better understanding of how molecules respond to light in processes that are crucial for life, like photosynthesis and vision, or that are potentially harmful, such as DNA damage from ultraviolet light.

Merging Antenna and Electronics Boosts Energy and Spectrum Efficiency

By integrating the design of antenna and electronics, researchers have boosted the energy and spectrum efficiency for a new class of millimeter wave transmitters, allowing improved modulation and reduced generation of waste heat. The result could be longer talk time and higher data rates in millimeter wave wireless communication devices for future 5G applications.

New Experimental Results from the Largest and Most Sophisticated Stellerator

An international team is running tests on the largest and most sophisticated stellerator, the Wendelstein 7-X fusion experiment. This complex machine is housed at the Max-Planck-Institute of Plasma Physics, and researchers are analyzing data from the first experiment campaign that took place in 2016, hoping to understand the science of fusion reactors. In a new report in Physics of Plasma, the scientists recount the first detailed characterization of plasma turbulence at the outer edge of the stellerator.

X-Ray Experiment Confirms Theoretical Model for Making New Materials

Experiments at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have confirmed the predictive power of a new computational approach to materials synthesis. Researchers say that this approach, developed at the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, could streamline the creation of novel materials for solar cells, batteries and other sustainable technologies.

Diesel Doesn't Float This Boat

Marine research could soon be possible without the risk of polluting either the air or the ocean. It's thanks to a new ship design and feasibility study led by Sandia National Laboratories. Despite many advantages, the feasibility of a hydrogen-powered research vessel has never been studied or proven. Until now.


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Seth Davidovits Wins 2018 Marshall N. Rosenbluth Dissertation Award

Article describes dissertation award won by Seth Davidovits.

DOE Launches New Lab Partnering Service

The U.S. Department of Energy officially launched the Lab Partnering Service (LPS), an on-line, single access point platform for investors, innovators, and institutions to identify, locate, and obtain information from DOE's 17 national laboratories.

Department of Energy Announces $75 Million for High Energy Physics Research

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $75 million in funding for 77 university research awards on a range of topics in high energy physics to advance knowledge of how the universe works at its most fundamental level.

Thesis Prize Winner's Calculations Characterize Neutrino Interactions

Alessandro Baroni is helping demystify one of the most mysterious particles. His work is contributing to our understanding of neutrinos, and it has earned him the 2017 Jefferson Science Associates Thesis Prize for work performed on a thesis related to research at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

10 Questions for Steven Cowley, New Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Steven Cowley, a theoretical physicist and international authority on fusion energy, became the seventh Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPon July 1 and will be Princeton professor of astrophysical sciences on September 1.

Ames Laboratory to lead new Center for Advancement of Topological Semimetals

Ames Laboratory will receive $10.75 million over four yearrs for a new Center for Advancement of Topological Semimetals as one of the Department of Energy's Energy Frontier Research Centers.

DOE Awards $100 Million for Energy Frontier Research Centers

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced $100 million in funding for 42 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to strengthen U.S. economic leadership and energy security.

Argonne welcomes <em>The Martian</em> author Andy Weir

Best-selling science fiction author Andy Weir visited Argonne to give a series of standing-room-only talks, inspiring students and scientists alike.

United States and Italy Sign Agreement to Collaborate on Sterile Neutrino Research

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Italian Embassy, on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, signed an agreement for collaboration on research with the international Short-Baseline Neutrino (SBN) program hosted at DOE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

UW Professor and Clean Energy Institute Director Daniel Schwartz Wins Highest U.S. Award for STEM Mentors

Daniel Schwartz, University of Washington Professor and Clean Energy Institute Director, received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) this week.


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Tracking Down Helium-4's Quarks and Gluons

Scientists obtain the first exclusive measurement of deeply virtual Compton scattering of electrons off helium-4, vital to obtaining an unambiguous 3-D view of quarks and gluons within nuclei.

Predicting Magnetic Explosions: From Plasma Current Sheet Disruption to Fast Magnetic Reconnection

Supercomputer simulations and theoretical analysis shed new light on when and how fast reconnection occurs.

Is Nature Exclusively Left Handed? Using Chilled Atoms to Find Out

Elegant techniques of trapping and polarizing atoms open vistas for beta-decay tests of fundamental symmetries, key to understanding the most basic forces and particles constituting our universe.

As Future Batteries, Hybrid Supercapacitors Are Super-Charged

A new supercapacitor could be a competitive alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

Forever Young Catalyst Reduces Diesel Emissions

Atom probe tomography reveals key explanations for stable performance over a cutting-edge diesel-exhaust catalyst's lifetime.

Sense Like a Shark: Saltwater-Submersible Films

A nickelate thin film senses electric field changes analogous to the electroreception sensing organ in sharks, which detects the bioelectric fields of prey.

A Bit of Quantum Logic--What Did the Atom Say to the Quantum Dot?

Let's talk! Scientists demonstrate coherent coupling between a quantum dot and a donor atom in silicon, vital for moving information inside quantum computers.

New Tech Uses Isomeric Beams to Study How and Where the Galaxy Makes One of Its Most Common Elements

A new measurement using a beam of aluminum-26 prepared in a metastable state allows researchers to better understand the creation of the elements in our galaxy.

Simulations of Magnetically Confined Plasmas Reveal a Self-Regulating Stabilizing Mechanism

A mysterious mechanism that prevents instabilities may be similar to the process that maintains the Earth's magnetic field.

Seeing All the Colors of the Plasma Wind

2-D velocity imaging helps fusion researchers understand the role of ion winds (aka flows) in the boundary of tokamak plasmas.


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