Join In The Search For New Organic Solar Cell Material


Here’s another way to get involved in the solar power revolution. Scientists want to recruit you (well, your computer) to help them search for new materials to make more efficient and cheaper organic solar cells. 
You don’t need a degree and no mental gymnastics are required – this is something just about everyone with a computer and an Internet connection can get involved with.
Conversion efficiencies for organic solar cells have been hovering around the 5-6% mark for a while, far lower than the 15% needed to make them commercially viable. 
The Clean Energy Project, run by a team from Harvard University, seeks to discover compounds that can be used to make organic solar cells that can reach this target. The number of potential candidates is massive – around 1,000,000, so the World Community Grid is assisting with the research. 
The World Community Grid is a project that recruits computer owners around the world who install software that captures their computer’s spare power when it is on, but idle, to perform calculations.
The first phase of the Clean Energy Project began in 2008 and the second in June last year. The first phase focused on predicting how potential candidate molecules pack together and if those molecules are suitable as a candidate for use in solar cells. Phase 2 of the project is using quantum mechanics calculations to more precisely predict if the candidates passing the first muster have the electronic and physical properties to be suitable in making solar cells.
By July this year, 4,500 years of CPU time had been clocked up and at the time of writing, 6,156,648 calculations had been performed during Phase II. The results these computations will be entered into a public database of molecular properties for data mining.
Visit the Clean Energy Project site for more information and to download the software needed to join in – who knows, it may be your computer that helps to crack the code to high efficiency, low cost organic solar cells.