Solprocel Project

The triggering of SOLPROCEL took place when COMSA Corporación and ICFO realized the potential that an organic photovoltaic (OPV) based technology has to be incorporated in transparent modules to generate electricity.

Indeed, the OPV technology is the only one capable of producing semitransparent colorless cells providing a clear and undistorted image when looking through the device. It can be perfectly integrated in buildings façades offering an enormous potential for electricity production units to penetrate in urban areas.

However, COMSA and ICFO were well aware that transparent OPV cells were not yet ready for a module production phase and the priority of the project was given to material research. Several issues, spanning from the development of low cost module fabrication to having stable and durable devices, are addressed in SOLPROCEL project. Much of the success rests on having the materials for such low cost module fabrication. To achieve an optimal light harvesting in a solution-processed semitransparent OPV cell, SOLPROCEL decided to combine the device processing developed by FAU with the photonic control developed by ICFO. Encouraged by COMSA and FAU, ICFO took the lead of SOLPROCEL.

Who are we?

The project incorporates 3 companies which are be able to industrially produce the PV and nano materials needed in solution-processed OPV cells: Specific Polymers the PV polymers, Nanograde the nanoparticles used in the buffer layers, and RAS the Ag nanowires used in the electrodes. In SOLPROCEL such companies are guided by three research institutions which provide complementary knowhow in three of the fundamental aspects of OPV technology: nano-fabrication (FAU), light management (ICFO), and organic synthesis (FhG-IAP).

What is the objective?

The Topic 4.0-2 “Innovative materials for efficient, table and cheap organic photovoltaic cells,” from the FP7-NMP-2013-SMALL-7 call provides an excellent framework to develop the SOLPROCEL project provided the issues above are in perfect compliance with many of the topics of this call such as, for instance, obtain an “improved thermal and photochemical stability in combination with a higher power conversion efficiency” for OPVs, or the development of “economically interesting processing technologies,” and “proposals could also cover advances in, e.g., non-vacuum coating and printing techniques.”

In summary, to achieve a semi-transparent PV technology under the framework of the specific call topic 4.0-2, the main challenges for SOLPROCEL are to increase the EFFICIENCY and STABILITY for semi-transparent OPVs, whilst ensuring LOW COST production methods.

Main Objectives

The quantifiable goal of SOLPROCEL is to obtain the materials needed for fully solution-processed high performance transparent (30% luminosity) OPV cells and to raise the efficiency of such cells from 5.6% to 9%. This later value raises up to 12% efficiency for the corresponding opaque cell.

SOLPROCEL has established objectives, six scientific, to undertake material research in all aspects of the cell device:

Objective 1: Design, synthesis and formulation development of new cross-linkable donor acceptor polymers to enhance infrared absorption and long-term thermal stability.

Objective 2: Use tandem cells to optically optimize the layered architecture and achieve a maximum light absorption with a minimum thickness for the active material.

Objective 3: Improve device stability by identifying degradation mechanisms.

Objective 4: Intercalate Ag nanowire electrodes within the architecture of the semi-transparent cells that use the photonic crystal to enhance infrared absorption

Objective 5: Develop new nano-particle inks to be used as alternative charge transporting layers, replacing the ones currently being used

Objective 6: Replace the low and high index inorganic materials currently used in the fabrication of the photonic nano-layered structure by low refractive index polymer and a high refractive index nanoparticle layers

Objective 7: Printing transparent OPV cells

Objective 8: Standardization and benchmarking of semitransparent OPV for use in façades

A new building market for photovoltaic technologies

One of the major applications we consider for exploiting SOLPROCEL’s semi transparent technology is in Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). Such semi-transparent OPV modules may be installed in façades of new buildings or relevant refurbishments.

When considering the integration of OPV cells in the building market, it is important to know the construction elements in which these modules will be integrated. The BIPV market includes building components and architectural solutions, such as verandas, brise soleil and balconies.