A team of researchers from the University of Michigan have uncovered a method to make electrons travel much farther, than what was thought achievable, in organic semiconductors materials and organic solar cells. The progress is a step forward towards cheap and easily available solar power.
This has helped to change the traditional perception that organics have poor conductivity. This discovery could dent the share of inorganic solar cells which have been mostly used till date. The benefits of organics are that they can be build from inexpensive and flexible carbon-based materials such as plastic. Hence, manufacturers can make rolls from them in various configurations and colors. Those can be laminated without much difficulty unobtrusively into any type of surface.
Electrons Move Farther In New Experiment
The researchers revealed that a thin layer of fullerene molecules can allow electrons to move quite a few centimeters starting from the point where they have been detached from the photon. That is quite an increase, for in the currently used organic cells electrons are capable of moving just a few hundred nanometers or even less.
Electric current generated in an electronic component or solar cell result from electrons shifting from one atom to another. Materials such as silicon, that find application in the presently used inorganic solar cells and other semiconductors, have atomic networks that are tightly bound and enable electrons to easily travel through the material.
However the bonds between separate molecules in organic materials are much looser and this can hold electrons. This has been a major difficulty but with the new discovery, it may be possible to alter their conductive properties for particular applications.