NREL, New Energy build largest organic PV device

New Energy Technologies and NREL say they have created a working organic photovoltaic (OPV) module 170-sq-cm in size, 14x larger than previous NREL-made OPV devices, on a glass substrate.

February 22, 2012 – New Energy Technologies and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) say they have created a working organic photovoltaic (OPV) module 170-sq-cm in size — 14x larger than previous NREL-made OPV devices — using the company’s SolarWindow technology that generates electricity on see-through glass.

William Farris, VP of commercialization and technology transfer at NREL, called the achievement a “breakthrough.” New Energy touts it as another step forward for building-integrated solar photovoltaic (BIPV) technology.

The heart of the development is New Energy’s room-temperature “spray-on” coating to spread tiny polymer-based solar cells (“composed primarily of hydrogen and carbon”), a quarter the size of a grain of sand, onto a substrate (glass in this case), with just a tenth the thickness of other “thin” films and without high-temperature or high-vacuum methods. A lab-scale prototype device was built in August 2011.

Last month, New Energy announced that researchers had “made use of” a high-speed/large-area solution-coating process, which the company says allows for more uniform and faster coating, thus enabling more rapid scale-up to larger glass surface areas.

The company started working with NREL in March 2011 to improve the technology’s efficiency, transparency (metal is the negative “polar contact” but it also blocks visibility), and electrical power output, and optimize the active layer coatings and make the layers bigger.

Goals for 2012 remain similar: push the technology further towards commercialization with larger scale, high-speed manufacturing, higher voltage, bolstered power output, and greater transparency.

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