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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/F016433/1
Title: Optimising polymer photovoltaic devices through control of phase-separation
Principal Investigator: Lidzey, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Jones, Professor R Ryan, Professor AJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 January 2008 Ends: 30 September 2011 Value (£): 692,775
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation Materials Processing
Solar Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Electronics Energy
Related Grants:
EP/F017057/1 EP/F019297/1 EP/F016255/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
26 Jul 2007 Materials Prioritisation Panel July 07 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
In principle, photovoltaic devices could meet all our energy requirements in a sustainable way, but at the moment the capital expense of conventional photovoltaics is too great to be competitive, and the volume in which they can be produced is much too small to make a serious dent in our electricity generating needs. Their relatively high manufacturing cost and the difficulty of scaling the manufacturing process is an intrinsic feature of their energy-intensive fabrication process. In contrast, non-conventional PVs based on organic semiconductors can be processed from solution using high-volume roll-to-roll printing technologies, offering the possibility of large area devices being fabricated on flexible substrates at very low cost. Unfortunately at present, organic PV devices are characterized by prohibitively low external power efficiencies (< 6%). Closing the gap in efficiency between organic and inorganic PV devices is a significant challenge / one which will require a full microscopic understanding of the processes that currently limit organic PV efficiency. The most promising organic PV devices are currently based on solution-cast blends of conjugated polymers doped with fullerene derivatives. Relatively little is however known regarding the role of the self-assembled nanoscale morphology of such systems on their operational efficiency. In this proposal, we seek to develop a comprehensive mechanistic understanding of the self-assembly processes by which nanoscale structure arises within such PV applicable materials. In particular we propose to study the evolution of nanoscale phase-separation during film casting using X-ray scattering. We will also utilize a range of complementary microscopy techniques ranging from environmental scanning electron microscopy, to time-resolved near field microscopy. The combination of such techniques will permit us to develop a complete picture of film structure from molecular to microscopic length-scales. Our proposed project draws together some of the UK's leading polymer scientists and technologists, with our goal being to significantly advance the understanding of the processes that limit organic PV device performance.
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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk