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The challenge

The production of solar cells is costly and complex

The production of silicon solar cells can be costly and complex, so we are developing alternative solar cell technologies using organic photovoltaics.

Organic photovoltaics enable low-cost, environmentally friendly production methods, and the ability to mass produce solar cells — this means a marked change in how and where energy can be generated.

Organic photovoltaic solar cells are cheap to produce and environmentally friendly.

Our response

Cheaper, longer lasting solar cells

CSIRO is committed to making cheaper, longer lasting and more environmentally sustainable photovoltaic solar cells.

Photovoltaics (PVs) convert light into electricity at the atomic level — materials are selected or designed to absorb photons of light and release electrons. When these electrons are captured, electricity is created.

Organic photovoltaics use conductive organic polymers or small organic molecules to create electricity. Most of today's commercially available solar cells are made from high-purity semi-conductor or solar-grade silicon, which makes the cells expensive.

Compared to silicon-based PVs, production methods for organic PVs are low-cost and environmentally friendly, and result in a lightweight flexible substrate that can be manufactured in large volumes.

Our researchers want to improve conversion efficiency, as current organic PVs are considerably less efficient than silicon cells at converting light to energy.

We are also investigating new organic materials and other technologies for the next generation of solar cells &mdash they will be lighter, more flexible and attractive and, most importantly, cheaper.

Photovoltaics with new production methods and flexible materials case studies

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