Project Name: Semi-Transparent, Reliable, and Efficient Scalable Organic Solar Cells for Building Integrated Applications
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Program (SETO FY2018)
SETO Research Area: Photovoltaics
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
SETO Award Amount: $1,300,000
Awardee Cost Share: $325,000
Principal Investigator: Stephen Forrest

-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --

This project team aims to make significant improvements in organic photovoltaic (OPV) technology which can be used to make semi-transparent solar cells that can be installed on windows, facades, rooftops, and other parts of a building. OPV cells are not as efficient as commercial silicon cells, but if they covered large portions of a building, they could supply a lot of energy and keep energy costs low. Furthermore, such cells are expected to have low manufacturing costs and are relatively easy to stack on top of each other to further decrease the cost of electricity produced by sunlight.


This team uses vapor, rather than a solution or ink, to deposit the OPV materials in a thin film. They will analyze different organic materials to use in the vapor and choose the ones that can achieve 11% efficiency and 40% transparency. Then they will use accelerated testing to demonstrate that the device efficiency will remain above 80% of the original value for at least eight years. Finally, the team will engage with manufacturers and work toward commercializing OPV windows and other building components within 10 years.


This research team fabricated the first opaque OPV cell to demonstrate 15% efficiency, compared with the state-of-the-art efficiency of 9%. Now the team is attempting to make their cells more transparent while minimizing efficiency losses so that OPVs can be used to make tinted and neutral-colored windows, facades, and rooftops so a building can inconspicuously generate its own energy.