Building Envelopes That Produce Energy

March 3, 2016

Efficiency breakthrough could vastly expand photovoltaic viability.

The buildings of the future could have facades and roofs that generate their own solar power thanks to a groundbreaking development that improves the efficiency of organic photovoltaics by 50%. Compared to conventional silicon solar cells, the organic design can be placed on top of flexible, simple-to-replace sheets that can be attached to roofs or other surfaces.

Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology altered the normal device structure by increasing the electrodes’ energy gap rather than developing new materials. The research, published in the Journal of Applied Physics, shows that the changes increased voltage by 0.2V and raised the solar energy conversion efficiency from 10% to 15% – a level at which the organic construction is predicted to be cost-effective. A prototype system using the photovoltaic cells is scheduled to be created later this year.

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