Hybrid Solar Cells: Recent Developments and Challenges


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The efficiency of hybrid solar cells should be improved. Photo by www.ems.psu.edu

The efficiency of hybrid solar cells should be improved. Photo by www.ems.psu.edu

Hybrid Solar System Overview

Dr. Feng Gao, researcher at the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology of Linköping University (Sweden), is one of the authors of a review about hybrid solar cell systems, published in Energy and Environmental Science on the 12th of June 2013. In this review, the authors discuss the most important aspects of the hybrid solar cells, including the progress made in recent years and the challenges ahead.

Dr. Gao told Decoded Science:

“The advantage of the hybrid systems is that they are potentially lower cost, compared with the traditional inorganic ones, which are just based on inorganic semiconductors. One reason for this is that the materials used to make the polymers are cheaper in comparison with the metals employed in the inorganic systems (i.e. indium, gallium, etc.). Moreover, they can be prepared with low-cost manufacturing methods, such as solution processing, inkjet printing and roll-to-roll deposition.” 


Solar Cell Efficiency Improvement

Solar cell efficiency has always been a problem, but hybrid systems has the potential to change all that. According to Dr. Gao:

“For a very long time, there has been a bottleneck in the development of the hybrid systems, as the efficiency in the light-to-electricity conversion was not higher than 3 %. In the last few years, however, huge progress has been made; power conversion efficiency close to 5 % has been reported. This showed that these systems can be improved, and that they have potential for the future.”

Photovoltaic Cells: Challenges Ahead

For these systems to have applications in commercial devices, however, a further improvement in the performance of these systems is necessary. Commenting on this, Dr. Gao explained:

“There are several critical issues which have to be investigated, and which could lead to a higher energy conversion. The interface between the polymers and the nanocrystals, for instance, is a determinant parameter; features such as the nanocrystal dimensions and the weight ratio between the two phases are very important.

The traps present in the nanocrystal structure are also crucial. Considering this, it is important to select carefully the synthesis conditions for the nanocrystals; the use of appropriate ligands, which can remove or minimize the formation of trap sites, is a key point to consider. To date, this was the most effective way to improve the efficiency of these systems.”

Hybrid solar cells are improving, but there’s still a long way to go.


Gao, F. et al. The renaissance of hybrid solar cells: progress, challenges and perspectives. (2013). Energy and Environmental Science, DOI: 10.1039/c3ee23666h.   Accessed June 21, 2013.

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