Organic Photovoltaic Film Sets Record for Efficiency

Germany-based firm Heliatek has developed organic photovoltaic (OPV) solar cell film that’s able to convert solar energy into electricity with record conversion efficiency.

The flexible “Heliafilm” can be applied to a variety of surfaces. The film is able to operate in low-light environs and in high temperatures, making it suitable for a diverse spectrum of applications, such as covering building walls or windows — or even flexible surfaces such as tents — with energy-generating solar film.

Inorganic PV cells are more efficient than organic ones, but Heliatek has made impressive strides in increasing efficiency in OPV cells. Heliatek’s OPV multi-junction cells now reach conversion efficiency of 13.2%, which has been confirmed by a third party participant, Fraunhofer Center for Silizium-Photovoltaik (CSP). The multi-junction cell has three patented light absorbers that convert green, red, and near-infrared light in the 450 and 950 nm wavelength range into electricity. Heliatek is aiming to get its OPV cells to reach 15% efficiency that would put organic PV cells on par with conventional inorganic PV cells.

The film is less than 1 mm thick, and can be made transparent enough to allow 50% of light to pass through. It boasts of achieving 25% more energy output  than traditional crystalline cells in low light conditions. Heliafilm is comprised of layers of ultra-thin organic semiconductor molecules that are deposited on PET (polyethylene terephthalate) film.

“Thanks to the excellent low light and high temperature behavior of the organic semiconductor, the electricity generation of the newly developed cells corresponds to the output of conventional solar cells with 16% to 17% efficiency when both are under real world conditions,” the company said.

Heliatek calls its OPV film the next generation of solar technology. The Heliafilm has a longer lifespan than other solar films, and it can be recycled at the end of its life; its production is less energy-intensive than conventional cells; no rare earth metals or heavy metals are used; and Heliatek uses 1g of organic material to create 1 square meter of Heliafilm. “Of all solar technologies, it has lowest energy used in manufacturing with a payback time within 3 months,” the company said. “Our concept allows using synergies with the OLED technology, that is already well established in the market, especially for displays.”

Heliatek was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum last year, and attended this World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos last month. “We are clearly executing our strategy to provide de-carbonized, de-centralized energy generation directly on buildings all over the world,” said Thibaud Le Séguillon, CEO of Heliatek.

Watch a video on Heliatek here:


Feature image courtesy Heliatek.


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