Organic Photovoltaic modules (OPVs) are also called Organic Solar Cells. A photovoltaic cell, is a specialized semiconductor diode that converts visible light into direct current electricity. Organic photovoltaic functions the same way as the conventional solar cells. However, here organic electronics (e.g. organic polymers or small organic molecules) are used for energy conversion and transport. The optical absorption coefficient of organic molecules is high, so a large amount of light can be absorbed with a small amount of materials.
The electrical and material properties of those organics can be tailored by modifying their chemistry. That allows it to customise the OPV easier to different applications than their inorganic counterparts. The power conversion efficiency reported for solar cells based on organic semiconductors already exceeds 10% and has shown a strong increase in recent months and years.
Organic solar cells do not require exotic and toxic materials. They can be readily synthesised using standard chemical methods. The final solar cell is non-toxic, an important factor for user acceptance and end-of-lifetime disposal or recycling.
The photovoltaic market is rapidly growing
The photovoltaic market has shown an enormous increase and is believed to grow over the next years with an average growth of 60% per year. Organic photovoltaics is a fast emerging research area with an increasing number of active groups. While currently less efficient at converting energy than their traditional counterparts, OPV offers many advantages that make them an attractive proposition for the solar market. They can be made flexible, lightweight and are potentially less expensive to manufacture than flat panel, inorganic solar cells. The materials can easily be customised to design requirements like shape or colour. Due to their flexibility and lightweight they are easily integrated in buildings but also other applications are possible, e.g. integration in (hand)bags, briefcases, textiles, cars, tents, umbrellas etc.