Hybrid Tandem Junction Solar Cells

Iowa State University Research Foundation
posted on 11/17/2011

Iowa State University researchers have developed solar cells with a novel hybrid structure that combines the benefits of both inorganic and organic photovoltaic cells.


  • *Efficient (efficiency of 14% or more is achievable)
  • *Robust (inorganic cells block damaging rays from reaching organic cell while creating an impervious barrier)
  • *Versatile (multiple materials and solar cell combinations can be used)
  • *Economical (amenable to screen printing or roll-to-roll manufacturing)

  • Innovation Details

    Detailed Description

    Organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells used to convert solar energy into electric energy have been the subject of intense research because of their potential to enable much more inexpensive manufacturing, in terms of materials and processes used, compared to conventional inorganic photovoltaic cells. However, OPV suffer from two major drawbacks. First, they are much less efficient than inorganic devices due primarily to the limited range of photon wavelengths that can be absorbed by the materials used for light absorption. Second, OPV are susceptible to performance degradation by the atmosphere (i.e., oxygen and moisture) as well as short wavelength UV light. To overcome these drawbacks, ISU researchers have developed hybrid tandem junction solar cells. These devices consist of an inorganic solar cell coated with a transparent conducting layer on which an organic solar cell is deposited. The inorganic solar cell can be an amorphous or nanocrystalline semiconductor, and either p-n or n-p heterojunctions can be used between the two cells. This structure offers better solar conversion efficiency through optimizing the bandgap or absorption of each of the solar cells while also improving stability of the organic cell since high energy photons are absorbed primarily in the higher energy gap inorganic cell, preventing them from degrading the organic cell. The organic solar cell is also protected from moisture and oxygen as an impermeable barrier is created by the inorganic cell. In addition, the devices can be manufactured using roll-to-roll methods on plastic transparent substrates. As a consequence, more robust, efficient and economical photovoltaic devices may be enabled.

    File Number: ISURF #3879 

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