The main focus of our research is on organic photovoltaics, and in case you are wondering what "organic photovoltaics" or often also called "organic solar cells" are, we hope that the information on this page will help.

Solar cells convert light into electricity. As light source, the most reliable fusion reactor in our solar system - our sun - is usually used. A good introduction into solar cells in general can be found on the Solar Sparks Homepage.

The "organic" in front of our solar cells does not mean we have to feed them (fortunately). "Organic" in our context means that the materials we use are mainly based on the element carbon. Most carbon-based materials are insulators, e.g. your typical plastic shopping bag. However, there are some organic molecules (polymers and small molecules) that have properties similar to silicon, the most common semiconductor, which is the heart in pretty much all computers and also used in more than 90% of all produced solar cells. Organic semiconductors are usually coated onto substrates at ambient temperatures in very thin films, about 1/1000 the thickness of a human hair. This mean that thin flexible plastic films can be used as substrates, giving many degrees of freedom in the design of electronics based on organic semiconductors. The picture shows two examples of how organic solar cell modules can look like.

Organic Solar Cells
Organic Solar Cell Modules courtesy of Heliatek GmbH and Konarka Technologies (Picture AFMD-Group, CC-BY)

An area, where organic semiconductors are already widely used are in mobile phone, tablets and TV displays made from organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). There are several web-pages show-casing what OLEDs can be used for, e.g. OLED Info.

Organic solar cells are not yet as far as OLEDs in terms of commercialisation, but have the potential potential to become a very cost-competitive solar cell technology. Due to their special properties such as light weight (think of light cardboard), colour tunability (they can be made green, blue, red etc.) and mechanical flexibility (like a flexible plastic foil), they can become a ubiquitous solar cell technology allowing us to harness the power of the sun everywhere we go. A perspective on organic solar cells, published in 2020, can be found here.