Researchers at Cambridge University have discovered that manipulating the 'spin' of electrons in organic solar cells can improve their performance and provide what they claim is a vital breakthrough in the development of cheap, high performance solar power technologies.
While organic cells can be thin, light and flexible, as well as printable, consistency has been a major issue and scientists have struggled to understand why some molecules work well, while others perform indifferently. The researchers, based at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory, developed laser based techniques to track the motion and interaction of electrons in these cells and found that performance differences could be attributed to 'spin'. By arranging the electrons 'spin' in a specific way, they found they could block the energy collapse from 'recombination; and increase current from the cell. "This discovery is very exciting, as we can now harness spin physics to improve solar cells, something we had previously not thought possible. We should see new materials and solar cells that make use of this very soon," said Dr Akshay Rao, a Cavendish Laboratory Research Fellow. The team believes the design concepts coming out of this work could help to advance the large scale deployment of solar cells and may also be applicable to oleds.