An advance in solar technology means portable electronic devices such as e-book readers could soon be re-charged on the move in low light levels and partial shading. Scientists from the University of Warwick, in collaboration with spin-out company Molecular Solar, have created an organic solar cell that generates a sufficiently high voltage to recharge a lithium-ion battery directly, without the need to connect multiple individual cells in series. Modules of these high voltage cells perform well in different light conditions including partial shade making them well matched to consumer electronic devices such as e-book readers, cameras and some mobile phones.
Organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells, the so-called 'third generation' of solar technology, offer exciting opportunities thanks to the potential for very cheap manufacture, lightweight, low profile photovoltaics compatible with flexible substrates, which means they are ideally matched to portable electronic device applications.
This new OPV technology is a significant breakthrough as scientists have addressed the problem of low out-put voltage when the module is in low light levels or partial shading taking an important step towards rolling out cheap OPV cells in low-power portable electronics.
The scientists, from the University's Department of Chemistry, have demonstrated a cell with an open circuit voltage of over 7V which delivers maximum power at more than the 4.2V needed to power a standard lithium ion battery.
This is the first time these features have been demonstrated using ultra high voltage OPV cells.
Professor Tim Jones, one of the lead researchers at University of Warwick, along with Dr Ross Hatton and Professor Mike Shipman, said:
"We have taken a big step towards cheap-to-make solar chargers which can top up your devices whenever they are being used – both indoors and out.
"A small light-weight solar charger no bigger than a credit card can be fitted to the battery of an e-book reader for example, and constantly top it up with power while you are reading it - even if you are sitting inside on the sofa.
"Alternatively, this kind of solar cell could be ideal for outdoor use as it is light-weight and portable.
"The next step is to extend this technology outside the laboratory to make cheap OPV chargers available on a commercial scale through Molecular Solar."
The research is detailed in the paper Ultra-high voltage
multijunction organic solar cells for low-power electronic applications and was published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aenm.201200560
University of Warwick: http://www.warwick.ac.uk
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Manmade warming in past decade has likely been offset by cooling from natural cycles in the Pacific and Atlantic - but effect will reverse in coming decades
A devastating disease that has wiped out amphibians around the world has been discovered in Madagascar, scientists report.
The Oklahoma Republican, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, has long argued climate change is a "hoax"
Warmer temperatures in Alaska are giving farmers flexibility to plant a wider range of crops over a longer growing season. One farmer says the secret to his bounty is soil enriched by flooding rivers.
The canal would allow passage for the largest ships on the water, but cut through wetlands, forests and the region's largest freshwater lake — and environmentalists worry about the consequences.
The results of the UK government's first auction for renewable energy subsidies are a boost for offshore wind, with solar the biggest loser.
Over half of India's population lives in areas with dangerous levels of air pollution. Now that has been translated into years of life lost overall
For the first time, a satellite has calculated the whopping amount of Saharan dust that is blown over the ocean to reach the Amazon rainforest every year
A vast electric fence is being erected around Mount Kenya, one of the world's great refuges for wildlife. Will it help people and animals coexist?
The world's national parks and nature reserves receive eight billion tourist visits a year, generating around $600bn of spending, according to research.