As an alternative to the crystalline and thin film photovoltaics deposited on inorganic structures, the Air Force Research Laboratories is funding investigation s into flexible organic materials which can produce electricity from sunlight. Two techniques are being pursued. The first is an all -polymer organic material and the other is a dye-sensitized organic/inorganic material, also termed a hybrid approach.
The all-polymer approach uses two organic materials. One is an electron-donating material and the other is an electron-accepting material. When sandwiched and exposed to light, the charge produced is transported through the materials to the electrodes producing a Voltage.
A dye sensitized structure has been developed and in testing has been shown to produce 10% conversion efficiency. Applications range from PV panels on tents in the field to lightweight solar panels for space applications. (Ed. note: Although focused on military applications, such flexible PV could be a strong component of a PV economy where mobile energy would became integrated with crystalline, amorphous and thin film in stationary applications of PV. Cost, ruggedness, reliability and lifetime characteristics are needed in both military and civilian applications.)
AFRL Horizons, June 2004. pp.41-42
(02-01)Organic Solar Cells Might Make PV Cheaper and More Efficient
Crystalline photovoltaics (PV) use relatively expensive vacuum deposition to place semiconductor material on silicon substrates. Conceptually, organic PV utilizes an organic molecule such asa disc shaped Phthalocyanine molecule which can be placed as a film about 100 nanometers thick on a plastic substrate with an electrical coating. Researchers at the University of Arizona think that such a device could have a variety of structures which could provide application variability. Not yet in a development mode, the intentions are to be able to have competitive products in about 10 years.
November 2001, p.30