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New Theory Guide Available: OPVs vs 3rd-Gen Solar Technologies

Posted on Fri, Oct 19, 2018

Although crystalline silicon (c-Si)  is currently the preferred material in the commercial solar cell market, thin-film alternatives could potentially be flexible, more affordable, and easier to produce. Organic photovoltaics are a popular alternative to silicon.


Record efficiencies achieved for third-generation thin-film cells over time, with data shown according to a 2018 NREL efficiency report.

They fall into the category of third-generation solar technologies, which are typically described as 'emerging' technologies. Other technologies in this category include copper zinc tin sulphide (CZTS), dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs), quantum dot solar cells, and perovskite solar cells.


In this new theory guide, we explore the efficiencies, cost, weight, stability, and the environmental impact of several third-generation technologies incomparison to organic photovoltaics. You can learn more here: Organic Photovoltaics vs. 3rd-Generation Solar Cell Technologies


Official Product Launch: X200 Source Measure Unit

Posted on Tue, Oct 09, 2018
Ossila X200 Source Measure Unit

The brand-new X200 Source Measure Unit has officially launched!


Source voltage, measure current, get data.

It really is that simple.


No matter what your skill level is, the X200 Source Measure Unit  enables you to perform simple and precise current/voltage measurements - even without any programming knowledge! The X200 replaces its predecessor, the original X100 model (now discontinued). For more information on the differences and key improvements between the new X200 and discontinued X100, please visit this blogpost.


Designed for optimal user experience and equipped with easy-to-use PC software, the X200 incorporates two voltage sources (for measuring current) and two voltage meters (for measuring voltage). 


Start accelerating your data collection today with the high-performance, low-cost X200 Source Measure Unit




Product Upgrade Preview: The Improved X200 Source Measure Unit!

Posted on Wed, Oct 03, 2018

Having listened to customer feedback, we've added several new features to our Source Measure Unit for improved practicality and user experience. As a result, the X200 Source Measure Unit was born!

If you want to set voltages and measure currents in your experiments, but don't have any programming knowledge (or just wish there was a simpler and faster way to collect data), then the redesigned X200 Source Measure Unit is perfect for your needs!

In the short video above, Dr. Nick Scarratt explains and demonstrates some of the X200's key feature upgrades, in comparison to its predecessor (the X100).

 

Upgrades & Improvements

X200 Source Measure Unit
The X200 Source Measure Unit retains the same core functionality as its predecessor, and has several new upgrades and improvements

 

Sleek, durable casing: The Source Measure Unit is now fully encased in a static-free metal casing, which protects the internal circuitry.

Outstanding simplicity: With a new easy-to-use PC software included, you can utilise the Source Measure Unit's basic functionality - without needing any programming knowledge!

Easier, integrated user control: You can now adjust the range switches via the PC Software - no need for manual adjustment on the circuit board! The software interface shows you a live feed of the 4 different measurement channels, which can be adjusted and monitored in real-time.

Range capacities doubled: Compared to the X100, the X200's current and accuracy range limits have increased by up to twice as much (full details coming soon).

Convenient BNC connector positioning: The connectors have been rearranged in a sequence that helps reduce the likeliness of your cables getting tangled.

Intelligently change range: If you are a more advanced user, you can take advantage of the new 'autorange' function to programmatically change ranges based upon measured current.


 


New Guide Available: Solution-Processing Techniques

Posted on Fri, Sep 28, 2018
substrate deposition via spin coating
An illustration of thin-film deposition (via spin coating) on a substrate.

 

There are various solution-processing techniques available to choose from when you need to produce high-quality wet thin-films.

 

As each technique comes with its own set of pros, cons, critical parameters (which must be carefully monitored), and ideal-use scenarios, it can be rather overwhelming when you are trying to pick a suitable technique to coat your substrates!

We've produced a helpful new guide which compares several popular techniques so you can choose the most suitable method for your experimental needs.

You can read this guide here - Solution-Processing Techniques: A Comparison.


New Guest Post: Coding for New Researchers

Posted on Mon, Sep 24, 2018

This is the final post in the series titled "A PhD Student Condenses...", written by one of Ossila's academic collaborators, Emma Spooner (a PhD student at the University of Sheffield). Previous posts in this series focused on condensing & reviewing recent academic articles in materials science. However, this post is unlike the rest. Instead, Emma will be sharing her thoughts and dishing out some advice on a topic that should be relevant to many new researchers - coding!

 

Basic 3D surface plot, generated with matplotlib module in Python
An example of a basic 3D surface plot generated using the 'matplotlib' module in Python.

 

Coding can be an intimidating topic for many new researchers - especially to those who don't have a background in Physics. There are so many questions to start with - what programme to use? How can I start learning? How do I process large datasets? This article aims to help you navigate the world of beginner-level coding for researchers! 

The full article written by Emma Spooner can be found here - A PhD Student Condenses: Coding for New Researchers.


New Guest Post Series: "A PhD Student Condenses..."

Posted on Mon, Sep 24, 2018

We are excited to announce the start of a new 6-part series titled "A PhD Student Condenses...", where recent academic articles will be condensed and reviewed by Ossila's newest academic collaborator - Emma Spooner, a first-year PhD student in Fullerene-Free Photovoltaic Devices the University of Sheffield.

 

Condensed Summary

Title: Influence of Molar Mass Ratio, Annealing Temperature and Cathode Buffer Layer on Power Conversion Efficiency of P3HT:PC71BM-based Organic Bulk Heterojunction Solar Cell

Citation: A. Singh et. al, Organ. Electron., 2017, 51, 428-434.

Learning point: The processing conditions used for one bulk-heterojunction OPV stack may not be the most optimal for a different stack.

 

The first paper she will review in this series is an article by Singh, Dey & Iyer featured in the December 2017 issue of Organic Electronics. It is based on optimising organic  (OPV) processing conditions - a topic important in maximising power conversion efficiency (PCE) values, and therefore of particular interest to researchers in the field of OPVs.

The full post written by Emma can be found here - A PhD Student Condenses #1: The Impact of OPV Processing Conditions


New Guest Post: Introduction to Ternary Organic Solar Cells

Posted on Mon, Sep 24, 2018

This is the fifth post in a series titled "A PhD Student Condenses...", where the latest academic articles will be condensed and reviewed by one of Ossila's academic collaborators - Emma Spooner, a PhD student the University of Sheffield. If you have any feedback or want to submit a topic request for future blogposts in this series, you may do so via this online form.

 

Condensed Summary

Title: Recent Progress in Ternary Organic Solar Cells Based on Nonfullerene Acceptors

Citation: R. Yu et al., Adv. Energ. Mater., 1702814 (2018); 

DOI: 10.1002/aenm.201702814.

Learning point: Ternary organic solar cells can show boosted efficiencies, morphologies, and stability in comparison to their binary counterparts. They are especially notable for improving the performance of lower-efficiency donors. 

 

For the fifth article in her series, she will be discussing the recent work by R. Yu et al., entitled ‘Recent Progress in Ternary Organic Solar Cells Based on Nonfullerene Acceptors’1. An overview of non-fullerene acceptors in organic photovoltaics can be found in previous articles by Ossila and as part of this series.

The full post written by Emma can be found here - A PhD Student Condenses: Introduction to Ternary Organic Solar Cells.


New Guest Post: Factors Influencing OPV Stability & Degradation

Posted on Mon, Sep 24, 2018

This is the fourth post in a series titled "A PhD Student Condenses...", where the latest academic articles will be condensed and reviewed by one of Ossila's academic collaborators - Emma Spooner, a PhD student the University of Sheffield. If you have any feedback or want to submit a topic request for future blogposts in this series, you may do so via this online form.

 

Condensed Summary

Title:  Fundamentals of bulk heterojunction organic solar cells: An overview of stability/degradation issues and strategies for improvement.

Citation: S. Rafique et al., Renew. Sust. Energ. Rev. (84), 43-53 (2018).

DOI: 010.1016/j.rser.2017.12.008

Learning point: Bulk heterojunction organic solar cells are susceptible to a wide range of degradation mechanisms, including both obvious extrinsic factors, such as oxygen and humidity, and intrinsic factors. Encapsulation alone is not always sufficient to produce stable devices

 

For the fourth article in this series, she will be discussing the recent work by Rafique et al., entitled ‘Fundamentals of bulk heterojunction organic solar cells: An overview of stability/degradation issues and strategies for improvement’. A summary of the fundamental principles of solar cells can be found in this Ossila guide on solar cell theory & measurement, whilst this discussion will focus on factors influencing their stability and degradation.

The full post written by Emma Spooner can be found here -  A PhD Student Condenses: Factors Influencing OPV Stability.


New Guest Post: ITIC & Its Derivatives as OPV Acceptors

Posted on Mon, Sep 24, 2018

This is the second post in a guest series titled "A PhD Student Condenses...", where the latest academic articles will be condensed and reviewed by Ossila's newest academic collaborator - Emma Spooner, a first-year PhD student the University of Sheffield.

Condensed Summary

Title:  Effect of Non-Fullerene Acceptors’ Side Chains on the Morphology and Photovoltaic Performance of Organic Solar Cells

Citation: C. Zhang, S. Feng, Y. Liu, R. Hou, Z. Zhang, X. Xu, Y. Wu and Z. Bo, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2017, 9, 33906-33912

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b09915

Learning point: Side chain modification of electron acceptors can be used to optimise bulk heterojunction morphology, and performance.

 

In the second article of this series, she will be discussing the recent work by Zhang et al. entitled ‘Effect of Non-Fullerene Acceptors’ Side Chains on the Morphology and Photovoltaic Performance of Organic Solar Cells.’1 As discussed in Ossila’s recent blogpost, non-fullerene acceptors (NFAs) are an emerging area of exciting research in organic solar cells, motivated by some of the inadequacies of conventional fullerene acceptors (such as their weak optical absorption). Further discussion of the developments in NFAs can be found in several comprehensive review articles.2-4 

The full article by Emma Spooner can be found here - A PhD Student Condenses: ITIC & Its Derivatives as OPV Acceptors

 


New Theory Guide Available: OPVs vs. 2nd-Gen Solar Cell Technologies

Posted on Tue, Sep 18, 2018

The solar cell market is currently dominated by crystalline silicon (c-Si) cells - also known as first-generation solar cells - which are lauded for their high efficiency and well-established manufacturing processes. Despite this, c-Si cells have high costs and a long payback time. As such, this type of solar cell is unlikely to be fully adopted until initial costs are lowered.

On the other hand, commercially-available thin-film solar cells (second-generation) are both affordable and easy to manufacture. This is due to their thin active layers, which use much less material than c-Si cells. They also pave the way for flexible and translucent solar cells.

graph of record efficiencies for 2nd-generation thin-film cells compared to organic photovoltaics
Record efficiencies for second-generation thin-film solar cells vs organic photovoltaics.

 

Beyond the technologies mentioned above are third-generation solar cells - which among others, includes organic photovoltaics (OPVs). This generation encompasses 'emerging' technologies that are less commercially available. OPVs are on their way to achieving efficiencies comparable to those of commercial c-Si cells, and typically have simpler manufacturing processes, higher defect tolerance, and fewer rare or toxic components.

You can learn more about the pros and cons of organic photovoltaics in comparison to second-generation solar cell technologies in our latest guide: Organic Photovoltaics vs. 2nd-Generation Solar Cell Technologies.

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