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Multi-scale framework for the accelerated design of high-efficiency organic photovoltaic cells

Organic and hybrid organic/inorganic solar cells (OSC) offer a promising low-cost strategy for harnessing solar energy. OSC technology incorporates the advantages of facile fabrication suitable for roll-to-roll processing, compatibility with flexible substrates, high optical absorption, low-temperature processing, and easy tunability by chemical doping. These devices are fabricated by spin coating the active layer from a blend of p-type photoactive polymer and n-type derivatives of fullerenes in the so called “blend-heterojunction,” architecture.
A key property determining the solar efficiency of such devices is the final morphological distribution of the organic and inorganic phases. The morphology of the solar cell not only depends on the chemical and thermodynamic properties of the active ingredients and the substrate but also depends on the fabrication process.  Ganapathysubramanian’s group is developing a computational framework that models the multi-scale morphological evolution and estimates the final efficiency of the solar cell. Such a computational engine is critical for accelerated design of highly efficient OSCs and their commercial deployment for low-cost and large-scale sustainable energy production.

Mentor: Baskar Ganapathysubramanian, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University.