Organic solar cells has surfaced as a versatile and less expensive substitute to its inorganic counterparts. However, their low efficacy levels and limited lifespan render them unreasonable and impractical for commercial usage as of now. As a part of the effort to improve the performance and bring organic solar cells nearer to practical usage, the research team at the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research Center (ANSER), which is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University, have gained a better look at the formation of molecular structures of organic solar cells. By utilizing the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne, researchers assessed how crystal structures of organic solar cells grow as they are produced under dissimilar conditions.
With the APS, the research team learned how the microstructures achieved are impacted by certain additives, providing deep insights that can enhance the efficiency of cells. Researchers predominantly emphasized on the photoactive layer of the cell, which is prepared from thin films that captivate energy from sunlight and then transform it into electric current. The team produced the films through spin coating, which is a broadly utilized procedure for film fabrication in a number of research labs. In spin coating, researchers poured the material, dissolved in the solvent, on a spinning surface, which caused it to take the shape of a thin and uniform sheet. After this, they kept the spin-coater at the X-ray beamline and watched the crystal structure of the film evolve in real time.