Meet the power players

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Organic polymer solar cells are set to revolutionize photovoltaic technology. Five of the world's leaders in the field are at the same institution

The hotspot

South China University of Technology

The Institute of Polymer Optoelectronic Materials and Devices at South China University of Technology in Guangzhou leads the world in research and development of organic polymer solar cells. This next-generation photovoltaic technology is low-cost, lightweight and flexible enough to be used in solar electric vehicles and for portable charging devices, or to be wall-mounted for power generation. The lab's research contributed to the design of polymer solar cells that achieved 12% sunlight to energy conversion, the highest efficiency achieved for this type of solar cell to date. The research was published in Nature Photonics in 2016.

These five researchers are also listed on the Web of Science's most highly-cited in materials science.

The Technology

“I believe in 10 years polymer solar cells will be available on the market. by then the research will have pushed power conversion efficiency possibly to 15%.”

Organic polymer solar cells are one of several next-generation photovoltaic technologies. Unlike conventional silicon solar cells, which are bulky and rigid, organic solar cells are thin, lightweight and flexible. Silicon-based cells convert sunlight to electricity at double the efficiency of organic polymer solar cells, but their flexibility means they could be “printed like newspapers” to lower production costs, says materials scientist Wu Hongbin. “My perspective is optimistic, but I believe in 10 years there will be polymer solar cells available on the market. By then the research will have pushed power conversion efficiency possibly to 15%,” he says.

Meet the power players

Polymer solar cell

South China University of Technology




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