Ossila's 2014 Highlights

Posted on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 by Jack Stephenson

As 2014 comes to a close, we're looking back over the year's key milestones and are incredibly proud and excited about the progress both ourselves and our customers have made in organic and thin film electronics. We've put together a list of some of 2014's highlights, and would also like to tell you about some exciting ongoing projects to look forward to in 2015.

A word from Ossila Managing Director, Dr. James Kingsley:

"2014 has been a hugely exciting year both within Ossila and the community generally. The take-off of perovskites has been astounding to watch and we're thrilled to be taking part in this with our new perovskite inks and precursors. We've also had a very exciting year on hardware development with our flagship SuperFACT project coming to fruition and receiving its first commercial order and our new project on scalable deposition systems, (LabFORM) coming along quickly and receiving great feedback from customers."

From the whole team at Ossila we would like to sincerely thank you for your custom throughout 2014; it has been a pleasure working with you. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and we look forward to another exciting year in 2015.

Ossila Spin Coater

As you may have read in our previous news articles, we developed our vacuum-free spin coater out of necessity; we wanted to avoid substrate warpage and reduce expensive servicing in order to make the most of our equipment. We added it to our catalogue in January and have seen an ever increasing demand for it throughout the year.

At Ossila we pride ourselves on creating equipment that is affordable, easy to use and incredibly efficient in order to help our customers conduct their research quickly and with fantastic results. To this end, we optimised the spin coater based on your feedback and will continue to improve its design and function. Over the past few weeks our Mechanical Engineer, Matt Hall, has been developing a new casing for the spin coater which will make it smaller, more robust and very sleek. We will be officially launching the Spin Coater V2 in early January, but for now here's a quick preview...


Probe Station

Now discontinued.

We launched our original probe station in November 2013, but again after listening to your feedback we realised there were improvements to be made. As a result, we launched V2 in May this year, which features a double ground plane to reduce noise, intelligent tracking and a transparent test fixture.

We're really proud of our probe station because it allows far faster and easier connection to FET devices compared to conventional probes. It uses interchangeable, prealigned probe heads with gold-coated, spring-loaded connectors to ensure a robust connection is made with minimal damage to the devices. We've had fantastic feedback from our customers, who have found that it really helps to speed up their testing process.


In recent years, perovskites have caused quite a stir within the community and huge progress has been made in reaching high efficiencies in a relatively short time span. A number of Ossila products have been used in key papers in 2014 too, including our Encapsulation Epoxy in Henry Snaith's Radiative efficiency of lead iodide based perovskite solar cells, and our pre-patterned ITO substrates, PCBM and PEDOT:PSS in Efficient planar heterojunction mixed-halide perovskite solar cells deposited via spray-deposition by Prof. David Lidzey et al. from Sheffield University.

We knew that many of our customers were eager to start their own perovskites research, and as a result we developed our new department to provide a one stop shop for the basic components needed to produce and test perovskite solar cells. Professor Lidzey has joined us on secondment from Sheffield University in order to help us to develop this product range. We have also produced fabrication guides and instructional videos, which we hope will act as a good starting point for those new to perovskites, or for students who are still learning.

In late November this year, we released the I101 Perovskite Precursor Ink as part of our new perovskite photovoltaics department. Our greatest achievement was reaching a peak/average power conversion efficiency of 11.7% thanks to the hard work of our research scientist Dr. Darren Watters. You can see Darren in action in the lab in one of our latest videos, in which he demonstrates how high humidity levels during fabrication can be detrimental to the performance of your perovskite devices.

Perovskite humidity video


Solar Farm Lifetime System

In Summer 2014, Ossila installed a unique photovoltaic measurement system on the roof of Sheffield University's Hicks Building. The Solar Farm Lifetime System incorporated multiplexor, software and encapsulation chambers to enable outdoor lifetime testing of PVs in an hermetically sealed environment.

Commissioned by the university's physics department, the system is designed to move photovoltaics research from the lab into field testing. The system stands alongside a test bed of state of the art solar panels and is part of Project Sunshine which aims to use the power of the sun to meet the increasing food and energy needs of the world's growing population. We are incredibly proud to be a part of such an important mission which is combining world-leading researchers from a range of industries in science and engineering.

New Materials

PCDTBT is one of the next generation donor materials developed for organic photovoltaics, and has provided an exciting area of research over the past year. Our PCDTBT was used in Sirringhaus and McNeill's paper, All-inkjet printed, all-air processed solar cells, which demonstrated a significant step toward low-cost, environmentally-friendly integration of photovoltaic cells onto plastic substrates.

At Ossila we were directly involved in another paper published in Scientific Reports, Molecular weight dependent vertical composition profiles of PCDTBT:PC71BM blends for organic photovoltaics, which saw the highest ever PCDTBT efficiency yet. The Ossila FACT System was used to test the FET devices throughout the experiment, which was another exciting moment for us.

As a result of these successes, we decided to expand our range of materials and have been carefully selecting new products that can offer exciting areas of research. This includes Heraeus PEDOT:PSS HTL Solar for spin coated OPVs, and PCE10 (also known as PBDTTT-EFT or PTB7-Th) which has shown promise to deliver on the heralded target of 10% efficiency and 10 years lifetime.

SuperFACT Mobility Testing System

With the original FACT System providing us with some groundbreaking measurements, we can't wait for the release of SuperFACT which we have been developing throughout 2014 and of which we have already had our first commercial order.

FACT (Fast, Automated Characterisation of Transistors) is a turnkey system designed to enable incredibly rapid and reliable measurement of 5 FET devices at once via an intuitive user interface. SuperFACT works in a very similar way, but is designed for high throughput experiments and is compatible with our high density substrates, each of which have 20 FET devices per substrate. The system can reduce R&D testing cycles by up 75%, and also removes manual intervention and human error which can reduce the quality of data collected.

We believe SuperFACT will revolutionise the way in which research groups conduct their data collection. Mobility measurements are as simple as pressing 'start' which makes the system suitable for people of varying skill levels to use. Furthermore, since the system is compatible with our prefabricated high density substrates, testing FET devices can be as simple as spinning on a semiconductor and placing the test chip in the machine for measurement.

Look out for further information on SuperFACT in the new year, or contact us now for more details.


SuperFACT isn't the only exciting hardware development we've been working on. LabFORM (Laboratory-scale Flexible Organic Roll-to-roll compatible Manufacturing) is one of our new projects for which we have been given a funding award from Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency.

With LabFORM we aim to reduce the difficulty in moving thin film technologies from research in the lab to mass-scale manufacturing by developing a system to enable rapid, low-cost production of large, flexible substrates. Currently, we are still in the early stages of the project and have lots of research ahead of us; stay tuned for further developments over the coming months.

Essential reading from the key papers of 2014

Research scientist Dr. Darren Watters, who has played a major role in the development of our new perovskites products, has put together a list of his favourite papers from the past year which have had significant impact on the industry.

A Fast Deposition-Crystallization Procedure for Highly Efficient Lead Iodide Perovskite Thin-Film Solar Cells by Manda Xiao et al. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.

This publication demonstrates a cool technique to obtain a fast processed perovskite film. By using a variety of solvents, the crystal growth could be altered from the same precursor solution during the spin casting step. Although the films also receive a 10 minute thermal anneal, this is significantly shorter than other routines (which can require times of up to 2 hours). The timing for dispensing the solvent during the spin casting step is however critical for this technique, with the effects from different timings demonstrated in the supporting information.

Reproducible One-Step Fabrication of Compact MAPbI3-xClx Thin Films Derived from Mixed-Lead-Halide Precursors by Dong Wang et al. Chem. Mater.

In this paper, the authors demonstrate their own procedure to dictate the crystal growth timing. Figure 1 shows how the crystal colour changes with regard to thermal annealing time. By combining both lead iodide and lead chloride in their solution, they were able to obtain good film uniformity. Photovoltaic devices also demonstrated a lack of hysteresis, with only minor differences when comparing the forward and reverse sweeps - a promising result.

Bright light-emitting diodes based on organometal halide perovskite by Zhi-Kuang Tan et al. Nat. Nanotechnol.

A very nice publication demonstrating the use of perovskite materials for light emitting diodes. The authors found that by changing the precursor material (and the architecture to suit the material in question) they could achieve different emissions. This highlights the impact these perovskite materials are expected to have (and already are having) on electronics.

Alex Jen's group - University of Washington

I really like the work this group has been doing. They are investigating some really interesting ideas (such as additives, blade coating) and their publications have a great deal of information. Most notable papers this year include: Additive Enhanced Crystallization of Solution-Processed Perovskite for Highly Efficient Planar-Heterojunction Solar Cells, Role of Chloride in the Morphological Evolution of Organo-Lead Halide Perovskite Thin Films, The roles of alkyl halide additives in enhancing perovskite solar cell performance, and Enhanced Environmental Stability of Planar Heterojunction Perovskite Solar Cells Based on Blade-Coating.

Efficient, high yield perovskite photovoltaic devices grown by interdiffusion of solution-processed precursor stacking layers by Zhengguo Xiao et al. Energy Environ. Sci.

Another nice publication looking at forming the perovskite layer (via a thermal annealing treatment) from two independently spun layers of lead iodide and methylammonium iodide. The authors investigate the effects of different ratios and film thicknesses and provide a good amount of information from their optimisation.