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Fluorescent Dye Increases Solar Cell Efficiency by 38%

The more recent innovation in polymer solar cells adds a layer of a fluorescent organic dye, squaraine, to boost the amount of light that gets absorbed by the cells, increasing their power conversion efficiency by 38%.

Researchers at Yale used polymer solar cells for their project, which have the advantage of being relatively low-cost, but also notoriously inefficient, due their inability to effectively transmit electrons from the cells.

However, by adding a layer of squaraine to Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based heterojunction polymer solar cells, the researchers found that the cells could not only absorb a wider spectrum of light, but also produce more electricity, boosting their efficiency by 38%.

“There are two crucial tasks for realizing high-efficiency polymer solar cells (PSCs): increasing the range of the spectral absorption of light and efficiently harvesting photogenerated excitons. Here, we describe Förster resonance energy transfer-based heterojunction polymer solar cells that incorporate squaraine dye. The high absorbance of squaraine in the near-infrared region broadens the spectral absorption of the solar cells and assists in developing an ordered nanomorphology for enhanced charge transport.” – Nature

The scientists working on the project say that this discovery solves a number of issues, and “opens up a new avenue for the development of high-efficiency polymer solar cells”.

The full results of the research are published here: Polymer bulk heterojunction solar cells employing Förster resonance energy transfer

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