Flexible Integrated Concentrating Lenses for Solution-Processed Solar Cells

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Unmet Need
Solar cells, also known as Photovoltaic cells (PV), are a clean renewable source of energy that uses the light from the sun to generate power. Two main ways to optimize the efficiency of solar cells are by creating new materials with excellent solar cell properties and by improving the architecture of the device to increase efficiency. Currently, Silicon based solar cells dominate the market, but this technology is energy intensive to produce, rigid, brittle, and require large amounts of material. Development in 3rd generation solar cells promises cost effective solutions by optimizing two factors: the solar cell’s material and architecture. 3rd gen solution-based materials allow for the use of a fraction of the material, are tunable to different light conditions, and can be flexible, lightweight, and semi-transparent for expanded applications. Unfortunately, 3rd generation materials are currently less efficient than traditional Si-based solar cells. Thus, there is need in art for new technologies that can improve the 3rd generation solution by improving efficiency and reducing cost.
Technology Overview
Johns Hopkins researchers have developed an economical method to maximize light absorption by mechanical design. They made compact concentrators for solar cells using 3D-printed plastic molds and flexible, transparent polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) lenses. Attaching mini-concentrator lenses (3rd generation concentrators) to thin film solar cells can effectively enlarge the active area of the devices, compensate for film non-uniformity, increase the power output of the devices without adding more active material, and potentially increase the power conversion efficiency (PCE) of the devices through improved open circuit voltage. Their lens transmits over 70% of the incoming solar radiation, and the resulting integrated system can deliver up to 20 times the short circuit current.
Stage of Development
The inventors have developed and tested a new 3rd generation solar cell integrated with the concentrator.
Lin Y, et al. ACS Appl. Energy Mater. 1 (6), 2592–2599, 2018
Patent Information:
Title App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date Patent Status
FLEXIBLE INTEGRATED CONCENTRATORS FOR SOLAR CELLS PCT: Patent Cooperation Treaty Japan 2019-554651   3/30/2018     Pending
Flexible Integrated Concentrating Lenses for Solution-Processed Solar Cells PCT: Patent Cooperation Treaty European Patent Office 18780734.2   3/30/2018     Pending
FLEXIBLE INTEGRATED CONCENTRATORS FOR SOLAR CELLS CON: Continuation United States 18/516,444   11/21/2023     Pending
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