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World record set in solar power conversion efficiency

Phillips 66, South China University of Technology and Solarmer Energy have successfully set a new world record in power conversion efficiency for polymer-based organic photovoltaic cells.

The 9.31 percent efficiency was certified by the Newport Technology & Application Center’s Photovoltaic Lab in  California.

“The breakthrough in efficiency offers a good opportunity for the commercialisation of the organic photovoltaic technology,” said Dr Byron Johnson, manager of Sustainability Technologies at Phillips 66. “This marks an important milestone for the industry and has the potential to deliver truly low cost energy for the world.”

The new record was achieved as a result of collaboration between Solarmer’s materials development team; the Alternative Energy group at Philips 66 Technology led by its director, Dr Ting He; and Prof. Hongbin Wu’s research group at SCUT.

The champion cell utilised a new polymer jointly developed by Solarmer and Philips 66, combined with the interface technology developed at SCUT’s Polymer Optoelectronic Materials and Devices.

“Our interface technology results in a marked improvement in OPV cell efficiency and is compatible with the roll-to-roll process, which is critical for manufacturing high efficiency and low-cost OPV cells on a large scale,” said Prof. Wu.

OPV is lightweight, has a better performance in low light and is easier to manufacture — making it a potentially cost-effective renewable energy technology on par with current conventional energy technologies.

“Solarmer remains steadfast in its mission to bring OPV technology to the market, and continuously breaking new ground is essential to achieving this goal. We are confident of breaking the 10 percent efficiency mark very soon,” said Woolas Hsieh, president and co-founder of Solarmer.

“Solarmer is building an ecosystem to cover the entire OPV value chain. Forming partnerships is the smartest and probably the only way to go forward. The company is now focusing its efforts in manufacturing technology with the goal of delivering the first OPV products in 2013.”

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