Poster Title

Environmentally Friendly Metal Nanoparticle Synthesis Method for Application in Organic Solar Cells

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Institution

Western Kentucky University

KY House District #

56

KY Senate District #

7

Department

Chemistry

Abstract

Chemical research on solar cells, and more specifically organic solar cells (OSCs), is an increasingly large and impactful field of chemical and environmental research. Commercially available silicon-based solar cells, while highly efficient, are large, rigid, heavy, and expensive, and for this reason the applicability of these devices is limited. We present a highly efficient OSC of widely accepted architecture constructed through our novel device fabrication method. Our process allows for less reaction time and lower energy input by replacing the commonly used thermal processing method with solvent processing. These OSCs have given high short circuit current and power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of 6-6.5%, which is higher than similar devices. More complex active layer organic materials have also been tested for their applicability to OSCs and have shown improved oxidative stability, higher reproducibility, and moderate PCEs. Conductive metal nanoparticles, reduced from metal salts, can be placed in the active layer of OSCs, and have been shown to increase PCE values, but current synthesis methods for metal nanoparticles utilize harsh reagents, toxic to the environment. Our synthesis method is run in the aqueous phase, without heat, and with the mild reducing agent, sodium borohydride, making for an environmentally benign reaction. Nanoparticles of iron, nickel, copper, and their alloys have all been successfully synthesized, and preliminary conductivity measurements have been promising. Future work will be focused on optimizing nanoparticle deposition onto the OSCs, for highly efficient and widely applicable photovoltaic devices. If successful, these devices could be used in everyday electronics and for large-scale energy harvesting, reducing society’s dependency on fossil fuels.

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Environmentally Friendly Metal Nanoparticle Synthesis Method for Application in Organic Solar Cells

Chemical research on solar cells, and more specifically organic solar cells (OSCs), is an increasingly large and impactful field of chemical and environmental research. Commercially available silicon-based solar cells, while highly efficient, are large, rigid, heavy, and expensive, and for this reason the applicability of these devices is limited. We present a highly efficient OSC of widely accepted architecture constructed through our novel device fabrication method. Our process allows for less reaction time and lower energy input by replacing the commonly used thermal processing method with solvent processing. These OSCs have given high short circuit current and power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of 6-6.5%, which is higher than similar devices. More complex active layer organic materials have also been tested for their applicability to OSCs and have shown improved oxidative stability, higher reproducibility, and moderate PCEs. Conductive metal nanoparticles, reduced from metal salts, can be placed in the active layer of OSCs, and have been shown to increase PCE values, but current synthesis methods for metal nanoparticles utilize harsh reagents, toxic to the environment. Our synthesis method is run in the aqueous phase, without heat, and with the mild reducing agent, sodium borohydride, making for an environmentally benign reaction. Nanoparticles of iron, nickel, copper, and their alloys have all been successfully synthesized, and preliminary conductivity measurements have been promising. Future work will be focused on optimizing nanoparticle deposition onto the OSCs, for highly efficient and widely applicable photovoltaic devices. If successful, these devices could be used in everyday electronics and for large-scale energy harvesting, reducing society’s dependency on fossil fuels.