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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M025020/1
Title: High resolution mapping of performance and degradation mechanisms in printable photovoltaic devices
Principal Investigator: Nelson, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Lidzey, Professor D Charbonneau, Dr C Rodenburg, Professor C
Tsoi, Dr W Dunbar, Dr ADF
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Ossila Ltd. Perkin Elmer Renishaw
Department: Physics
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 August 2015 Ends: 31 January 2019 Value (£): 1,035,857
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Solar Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
26 Feb 2015 Supergen Solar Challenge Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
PV materials that can be processed from solution at low temperature offer a route to low cost and low emebedded energy PV modules with potential for integration into buildings and other infrastructure to generate clean electricity on a large scale. Organic PV (OPV) has attracted intense research interest; impressive improvements in efficiency and in fabrication knowhow have been demonstrated. Lead halide perovskites solar cells (PSC) are based on a newly rediscovered active layer material and have shown radical improvements in start-of-life efficiency with recent optimisation of device structure and processing.

However both technology types are challenged by losses in power conversion efficiency under operation, even though they are believed capable of stabilised efficiency of 15-20%. The limited operational stability of such devices inhibits their widespread commercial application. To overcome this there is a need to understand the sources of efficiency loss, both at start-of-life and during ageing in typical operating environments.

Until now, most studies of novel PV device stability have amounted to empirical studies of the evolution of performance parameters for different materials or device structures in different environments, and scientific attention has focussed largely on the oxidative stability of the photoactive layer. Relatively little attention has been paid to the electrodes and interlayers, even though these layers are often the first to fail and additionally they are partly responsible for protecting the active layers. In addition, most performance metrics probe the macroscopic device performance and although imaging methods have been used to observe heterogeneous material properties during ageing mapping techniques have not yet been used to provide detailed insight into the chemical, electrochemical and physical mechanism of current and voltage loss.

This proposal seeks to develop a set of interlinked experimental techniques to probe the basic mechanisms underpinning device degradation and failure in two leading classes of printable photovoltaic (PV) materials, organic photovoltaics (OPV) and organohalide perovskite solar cells (PSCs). Our approach is to develop and adapt two-dimensional mapping techniques that probe the local chemical and electronic state of the materials and combine them with device-scale electrical measurement, structural characterisation and modelling in order to analyse the degradation mechanisms, to identify the local conditions that lead to degradation and to design strategies to inhibit the progression of failure mechanisms. The mapping tools will be developed with the potential to be applied during module manufacture and quality control.
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk