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Cambridge University Launches Organic Solar Cell Venture


by Energy Matters

Cambridge University And Organic Solar Cells
One of the fastest growing fields in solar photovoltaic technology is research and development of cheaper and more efficient thin-film solar delivery systems, whereby photovoltaic cells are placed on a flexible material, commonly expensive silicon substrate, which can be placed directly onto rooftops, walls or even windows of buildings.
A new UK company, Eight19 Ltd., spun out of Cambridge University's commercial arm, are looking to a future beyond the manufacturing of traditional silicon-based thin-film solar cells, instead focusing on solar cells made with semiconducting plastics (also known as organic photovoltaics, or OPV).
Unlike other more familiar thin film solar platforms, organic solar cells are not inherently limited by constraints around material supply and toxicity, and benefit from a number of fundamental advantages including potentially very low cost production enabled by low temperatures and by utilising roll-to roll manufacturing techniques typical of plastic films.
Co-founder of Eight19, Professor Sir Richard Friend, says thin-film solar OPV is a very different sun-capture method than traditional solar energy systems based on rigid silicon solar panels.
"Solar cells made with organic semiconductors work very differently to those made with silicon and are closer in operating principle to photosynthesis in green plants," he said.
Eight19 (so-called because it takes eight minutes and 19 seconds for light from the sun to reach the earth), claim organic photovoltaic solar will provide cheaper solar power to consumers, and that the market for organic solar cells has the potential to reach $500 million by 2015. According to the team's figures, this demand will grow four-fold to $2 billion by 2020 (Nanomarkets, 2009) driven by applications such as building-integrated photovoltaics, and could save up to 900 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050.


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