< Reseach Project



FP7-NMP 2009 - SANS: Sensitizer Activated Nanostructured Solar Cells

Widespread uptake of inorganic semiconductor solar cells has been limited, with current solar cell arrays only producing arround 10 GW of the 15 TW (~0.06%) global energy demand, despite the terrestrial solar resource being 120,000TW.The industry is growing at a cumulative rate of over 40% per annum, even with effects of the financial crisis. However, to contribute to global power this century, growth of around 100% pa is required. The challenge facing the photovoltaic industry is cost effectiveness though much lower embodied energy. Plastic electronics and solution-processable inorganic semiconductors can revolutionise this industry due to their relatively easy and low cost processability (low embodied energy). The efficiency of solar cells fabricated from the "cheap" materials, is approaching competitive values, with comparison tests showing better performance for sensitizer activated solar cells with reference to amorphous silicon and CIS in Northen European conditions. A 50% increase of the output will make these new solar cells commercially dominant in all markets since they are superior in capturing photons in non- ideal conditions (angled sun, cloud, haze) having a stable maximum power point over the full range of light intensity. To enable this jump in performance in a timely manner, a paradigm shift is required. The revolutionary approach to these solar cells we are undertaking in the SANS project is exactly that and matches the desires of the IEA for mitigation of climate change. Our objectives are to create: highly efficient panchromatic sensitizers, ideally structured semiconducting metal oxide materials and composites; optimized non-volatile and quasi solid-state electrolyte compositions  and solid-state organic hole-transporters; achieve full comprehension of the physical processes occourring during solar cell operation; and realization of a 40,000 hrs out door lifetime, being the sprinboard for commercialization.

The project is finished in December 2013