• According to a research work led by Germany’s FAU, for OPV modules, 12.6% power conversion efficiency has been achieved
  • It is an improvement of 30% over previous record efficiency level of 9.7%, and was achieved on a module area of 26 cm²
  • As inactive areas were minimised through high-resolution laser restructuring, the researchers claim active part of the module area can achieve 13.2% efficiency

Researchers led by Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen Nurnberg (FAU) in Germany have reported achieving 12.6% power conversion efficiency for organic PV (OPV) modules on an area of 26 cm², exceeding the previous world record of 9.7% by 30%. This, they claim, is the highest efficiency value ever reported for an organic PV module, which was independently confirmed by Fraunhofer ISE.

The new efficiency level was achieved by FAU with scientists from the Bavarian Center for Applied Energy Research (ZAE), the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nurnberg for Renewable Energy (HI ERN), and South China University of Technology (SCUT).

For their research, the team used a multi-cell module developed at the Solar Factory of the Future at the Energie Campus Nurnberg (EnCN) in a coating laboratory with a special MW line for thin-film PV. It consists of 12 serially connected cells and has a geometric fill factor of over 95% that helps in power generation.

The team says the active part of the module area is capable of achieving a 13.2% efficiency level, as it minimised the inactive areas through high-resolution laser restructuring.

Compared to the use of silicon, OPV modules have semiconductor properties and can be directly applied onto a carrier film or glass carrier making it suitable for building integrated PV (BIPV) applications, thereby doing away with the need for energy-intensive melting processes required for silicon. This brings down manufacturing costs while also opening up avenues to deploy this technology on mobile devices as well as clothes for instance, the researchers emphasize in their PR. But so far low production efficiencies on large scale, stability, and high cost compared to silicon are still issues that need to be solved to compete with silicon even in the BIPV field.

“This milestone in organic semiconductor research shows that the latest performance developments with certified cell efficiencies of over 16% are not limited to the laboratory scale, but ready to be scaled up to the level of prototype modules,” said Prof. Christoph Brabec from FAU, director at HI ERN, and scientific director of the Solar Factory of the Future, a research group of ZAE Bayern.