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Non-Fullerene-Acceptor based polymer solar cells with 15% efficiency and 10-year lifetime – NFA-15

Non-Fullerene-Acceptor based polymer solar cells with 15% efficiency and 10-year lifetime

Polymer solar cells have seen a performance gain of 6% to 13% between 2015 and 2017 thanks to the use of non fullerene acceptors (NFAs). The NFA-15 project aims to develop new NFAs and an approach based on ternary blends to achieve 15% performance at laboratory level. In addition, a transfer of NFA technology at the industrial level is targeted to obtain modules at 10%, i.e. 8-9% after stabilization, and a lifetime of 7 to 10 years.

The NFA-15 project aims to demonstrate that non fullerene acceptors can lead to 10% efficiency in fully printed modules

Polymer solar cells (PSC) are promising technologies for production of photovoltaic solar energy at low cost. Thanks to their flexibility, semi-transparency and color tuning PSCs are only interesting for building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV), but also unique energy provider for indoor and consumer electronics. Companies such as ARMOR start to enter first products into theses markets now. Power conversion efficiencies (PCE) of PSCs over 16% were demonstrated in 2019 at lab scale, but only around 5% are reached at module level by industrial processes limiting their potential for products. Therefore the major challenge for PSCs is now to increase power conversion efficiency in industrial R2R production. During the last fours years, new non fullerene acceptors (NFAs) have been developed increasing efficiency from NFA-based PSCs continuously from 6% beginning 2015 to 16% in 2019 attracting highest interest in the OPV community. The objectives of the NFA-15 project are A: demonstration of NFA based PSCs with efficiency of 15% at lab scale, i.e. inside the glovebox at 0.2 cm2. B: Transfer of lab processes to industrially relevant NFA PSC printing in air with efficiency at module level of 10% (8-9% after burn-in). C: Selection of materials and device structures to reach 7-10 years lifetime. The objective A needs to be addressed by combining novel NFA acceptors, use of ternary and quaternary blend approaches with optimized device structures. For the industrial objective B, compatibility of NFAs with non-toxic solvents, purity and reproducibility of NFA syntheses is in the focus, air processing with doctor blading and thermal stability is addressed. Importantly, excellent thermal stability up to 100°C of NFA blend PSCs was already demonstrated making NFAs promising for industrial processes. The objective 10-year lifetime (objective C) will be addressed by combining NFAs with selected donor materials and employing high efficiency encapsulation provided by ARMOR.

To achieve its objectives, the NFA-15 project aims the synthesis of NFA to increase light absorption in the active layer while keeping the VOC high. In parallel, ternary blend approaches will be studied to reduce the recombination of charge carriers in the active layers. This will open up the possibility of making thicker, more absorbing and easier printable active layers without reducing the efficiency of the solar cells.

Detailed study to elucidate degradation mechanisms and thus to understand the low photo-stability of ITIC derivatives
- First NFA more stable than ITIC derivatives, whose 5% efficiency still needs to be improved
- 12% with NFA (PCE13:ITIC-4F) using non-chlorinated solvents such as o-xylene
- Development of high-performance inks based on NiOx nanoparticles dispersed in isopropanol to replace PEDOT:PSS

Best poster award at the HOPV 2019 international conference in Rome on the work on the stability of solar cells based on ITIC derivatives

Future prospects:

Develop high-performance stable ITIC derivatives

Realization of NFA-based solar cells manufactured by «doctor blading« in air on a surface of 1cm2

-Application of ternary blend approaches to NFAs to increase the active layer thickness to 250 nm in solar cells while maintaining an efficiency greater than 12%.

(see www.cinam.univ-mrs.fr/newsite/anr-nfa15/index.php)

1- Exploring charge transport in high temperature polymorphism of ITIC derivatives in simple processed unipolar bottom contact organic field-effect transistor. Y. A. Avalos-Quiroz, T. Koganezawa, P. Perkhun, E. Barulina, C.M. Ruiz, J. Ackermann, N. Yoshimoto, C. Videlot-Ackermann. Adv. Electon. Mat., 2022, 2100743.
2- Non-fullerene acceptors with an extended pi-conjugated core: Third components in ternary blends for high-efficiency, post-treatment-free, organic solar cells. Y. A. Avalos-Quiroz, O. Bardagot, Y. Kervella, C. Aumaître, L. Cabau, A. Rivaton, O. Margeat, C. Videlot-Ackermann, U. Vongsaysy, J. Ackermann, R. Demadrille. ChemSusChem, 2021, 14, 3502-3510. DOI: 10.1002/cssc.202101005.
3- Direct Correlation of Nanoscale Morphology and Device Performance to Study Photocurrent Generation in Donor-Enriched Phases of Polymer Solar Cells. S. Ben Dkhil, P. Perkhun, C. Luo, D. Müller, R. Alkarsifi, E. Barulina, Y.A. Avalos Quiroz, O. Margeat, S.T. Dubas, T. Koganezawa, D. Kuzuhara, N. Yoshimoto, C. Caddeo, A. Mattoni, B. Zimmermann, U. Würfel, M. Pfannmöller, S. Bals, J. Ackermann, C. Videlot-Ackermann. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2020, 12, 28404-28415. DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c05884.

Oral presentations:
1- Recent progress in understanding and improving photostability of non-fullerene acceptor materials and corresponding polymer solar cells. Jörg Ackermann at International Workshop on Emerging Solar Energy Materials & Applications - Ile de Porquerolles (France),
30 mai-3 juin 2022 (Invited speaker).
2- Benchmarking the intrinsic photostability of non-fullerene acceptors
and corresponding donor polymers of high-efficiency polymer solar. Jörg Ackermann at nanoGe Spring meeting - 7-11 mars 2022 (online conference).
3- Optical and electrical characterizations of NFA based organic solar cell. A. K. Bharwal, Y. A. Avalos Quiroz, C.M. Ruiz, D. Duché, L. Escoubas, O. Margeat, C. Videlot Ackermann , J. Ackermann, J.J. Simon. DETECT DAY - Domaine Saint-Endréol (France) 25-26 November 2021.
4- New Non-Fullerene Acceptors with an Extended Pi-Conjugated Core in Binary and Ternary Blends for High-Efficiency Organic Solar Cells. Yatzil Avalos Quiroz, Olivier Bardagot, Yann Kervella, Cyril Aumaître, Lydia Cabau, Agnès Rivaton, Olivier Margeat, Christine Videlot-Ackermann, Uyxing Vongsaysy, Jörg Ackermann and Renaud Demadrille. nanoGe Fall Meeting - 21 octobre 2021 (online conference).
5- NFA Molecules with an extended pi-conjugated core: Synthesis, characterization, photovoltaic performances and stability analysis. Lydia Cabau, Y. Kervella; O. Bardagot; Y. Avalos; A. Rivaton; C.M. Ruiz; D. Duché; J.J. Simon; P. Perkhun; O. Margeat; C. Videlot-Ackermann; M. Bertrand; J. Ackermann and R. Demadrille. MRS-Fall meeting - Boston (USA) 1-6 December 2019.

Polymer solar cell (PSC) technology is amongst the most powerful and promising in terms of processing cost and simplicity compared to other photovoltaic technologies. There are still, unfortunately, low power conversion efficiency limitations and a major source of instability due to the use of fullerene derivatives as acceptor materials. In the last two years, however, polymer solar cells using a new class of acceptor materials, referred as non-fullerene acceptors (NFA) have gain extremely high attention in the field of PSCs. Indeed, unprecedented increase in power conversion efficiency from 6% to 12% within 18 months, with additional demonstration of fast exciton dissociation at low driving forces at the donor :acceptor interface, demonstrates a high potential of NFA to push PSCs technology for industrial developments. Even more recently, it was shown that limitation of binary donor-acceptor blend approaches can be surpassed by multi-material blend approaches (ternary blends), evidencing the potential of carefully designed complex material associations in the PSCs over the different parameters (increase in open-circuit voltage, photocurrent and very recently also fill factor are improved). In this context, the aim of the NFA-15 project is therefore to develop new highly performing NFA molecules together with appropriate designed ternary blend approaches to reach 15 % of power conversion efficiency at lab level. Furthermore, transfer of lab processes to industrially relevant NFA PSCs printing in air, with efficiency at module level of 10% (8-9% after burn-in) will be developed, which would be an essential step towards a larger range of PSCs application in industry. All these effort in increasing efficiency will be combined with stability study to evaluate and improve the NFA-based solar cells lifetimes to reach long time stability of 7-10 years in products.

Project coordination

Jörg Ackermann (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Délégation provence et Corse DR12 - Centre Interdisciplinaire de Nanoscience de Marseille)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CINaM CNRS DR12 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Délégation provence et Corse DR12 - Centre Interdisciplinaire de Nanoscience de Marseille
IM2NP Institut des Matériaux, de Microélectronique et des Nanosciences de Provence
ICCF Institut de Chimie de Clermont-Ferrand
SYMMES Systèmes Moléculaires et nanoMatériaux pour l'Energie et la Santé

Help of the ANR 620,010 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2017 - 48 Months

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