Flexible solar cells

Novel class of organic materials for thin film photovoltaics

Materials Energy

Tents with flexible photovoltaic panels.

Utilizing photovoltaic (PV) modules as power sources for Navy applications has been constrained by the weight, the rigid intrinsic layout of conventional photovoltaic modules, and cost. The use of organic materials in the manufacture of PV cells would address some of these issues but organic materials are less stable than traditional PV materials such as silicon. Further problems with current PV devices based on organic materials that limit their use, include thermal stability issues and performance degradation when exposed to an environment and conditions common to PV applications.

Navy researchers have developed organic PV materials with tunable energy levels, improved oxidation stability, thermal stabilities, solubility, and processability. The improvements are provided by a derivatized poly-benzo-isimidazobenzo phenanthroline (Py-BBL) which yields organic PV modules that are air stable and more soluble in environmentally benign solvents for large area fabrication of thin films. Other related circuit component devices including field effect transistors, capacitors, and simple inverters, are also demonstrated with materials.

This patent is a divisional of US patent 8,951,828 issued on Feb. 10, 2015. The ‘828 patent specifies the method for making thin film materials by acid etching and fabricating the thin film onto plastic and elastomeric substrates.  The ‘892 specifies the photovoltaic device (and modules) comprising Py-BBL.

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