Monday , June 14 2021

Mapping the energy landscape of solar cells



A new spectroscopic method now enables measurement and visualization of the energy landscape in solar cells based on organic materials. It was developed by a research team led by Prof. Dr. Jan Weinzof, a physicist at the University of Heidelberg. This new imaging technique enables scientists to study the physical principles of organic photovoltaics with extreme precision and to better understand processes such as energy losses.

"Mapping our landscapes to Earth was a necessary step in understanding the patterns of motion and dynamics of humans, animals and water, among other examples," explains Prof. Weinzoff, head of the research group at the Kirchhoff Institute of Physics at the University of Heidelberg. . "Similarly, the motion of electric charges in a solar cell is determined by the energy landscape in the device." So far, visualizing these energy landscapes has been so challenging that only rough estimates can be used to study the underlying processes in organic photovoltaic devices.

The spectroscopic method developed by Heidelberg researchers can map the energy landscape on a nanometer scale and can be applied at any point during the life of a solar cell. "The strength of our method lies in its excellent resolution and great flexibility," said Vincent Lamy, a member of the team of Professor Weinzof and lead author of the study. According to Prof. Weinzoff, their work solves a key problem in the field of organic photovoltaics. "Without mapping energy landscapes, it is difficult to understand how and why devices lose energy in the process of converting light into electricity. We now have a spectroscopic method that allows us to develop new generations of solar cells with reduced energy losses and improved performance," emphasizes the scientist who leads the Organic Electronics research group at the Kirchhoff Institute of Physics and works at the Center for Advanced Materials at the University of Heidelberg.

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The research is part of the ENERGYMAPS project, for which Professor Weinzof received funding from the European Scientific Council (ERC) in the form of an ERC Starting Grant. The current results were published in the journal "joule".

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