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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I028641/1
Title: Polymer / fullerene photovoltaic devices: new materials and innovative processes for high-volume manufacture
Principal Investigator: Lidzey, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Buckley, Dr A R Jones, Professor R Iraqi, Dr A
Dunbar, Dr ADF Ryan, Professor AJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Polysolar Ltd Xennia Technology Ltd
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2011 Ends: 31 March 2015 Value (£): 967,004
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation Materials Processing
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Electronics
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
09 Feb 2011 Physical Sciences Materials - Feb Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The harvesting of sunlight has the potential to revolutionize the way mankind generates electricity. At present however, only a small fraction (0.02% in 2008) of the world's total electrical power is generated using sunlight. Photovoltaic (PV) installations based on crystalline silicon are an increasingly popular way of generating electricity from solar-radiation, however such installations suffer from a relatively long pay-back time resulting from their high cost of manufacture. There is thus growing interest in the development photovoltaics based on organic (polymeric) materials (OPV) that can in principle be produced at low-cost, over very large areas utilizing solution-based processes that do not require a large energy input. At present however, even the best lab-based OPVs have an efficiency that is significantly lower than that of standard crystalline silicon (~8% compared with ~18%), coupled with a relatively short operational lifetime - attributes that have partly precluded their commercialization. There is nevertheless great interest in exploring the scale-up of OPVs, despite the fact that no common consensus has been reached on the best route to deposit multilayer architectures at high-speed. This problem is compounded by the fact that many of the materials that have the highest efficiency in OPV devices often have rather low solubility; properties that limit their application in high-speed manufacture processes. Addressing these issues lies at the heart of our proposed research. Firstly, we will engineer the chemical structure of state-of-the-art low energy-gap donor polymers to significantly improve their solubility and processability. We will then explore the deposition of such materials into OPVs using spray-based techniques. The thin-films formed will be characterized using high-resolution electron microscopy together with X-ray and neutron-scattering. The project team we have assembled for this task have leading expertise in organic-electronics, polymer-synthesis, polymer-physics and practical manufacturing processes. Our project is significantly strengthened by funds from the European Regional Development Fund (Project Mercury) to purchase an automated aerosol deposition system and fund postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers. We have ready route for commercialization via our (unfunded) links with a TSB-funded project that intends to develop OPVs for transparent window-glass applications. We anticipate the outcome of our work will be a materials set and a scalable process for high speed OPV manufacture.We will gain impact for our work through showcasing scaled-up OPV devices at the Sheffield Solar Farm and by interacting with artists and designers who wish to use organic photovoltaics in their work. We will also gain valuable support and publicity for our work through 'Project Sunshine'; a flagship project at Sheffield that promotes research into the utilization of solar energy to solve problems related to mankind's growing energy-needs and food-production in a time of growing climate uncertainty.
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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk