Research Papers

Development of Scalable and Low-Cost Polymer Solar Cell Test Platform

[+] Author and Article Information
Arumugam Manthiram

e-mail: rmanth@mail.utexas.edu
Materials Science and Engineering Program,
The University of Texas at Austin,
Austin, TX 78712

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Solar Energy Engineering. Manuscript received June 12, 2012; final manuscript received April 12, 2013; published online June 25, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Santiago Silvestre.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 135(4), 041004 (Jun 25, 2013) (8 pages) Paper No: SOL-12-1154; doi: 10.1115/1.4024246 History: Received June 12, 2012; Revised April 12, 2013

The main advantage of organic or polymer solar cells is their compatibility with conventional printing and coating techniques, making them highly cost-effective and suitable for large scale manufacturing. This work describes a simple, scalable, low-cost platform designed to test polymer solar cell devices. Custom built instrumentation and software were developed to analyze the current–voltage characteristics and quantum efficiency (QE) of the solar cells. The test set-up is modular and can be adapted to test solar cells under varying atmospheres (inert and ambient). The solar energy source comprises of an Oriel 91160 300 W class C solar simulator with air mass (AM) 1.5 G filter for spectral shaping and solar intensity variation between 1 and 3 suns. Custom software developed using labview allows for testing to be carried out at high speeds reproducibly with minimal operator intervention. Software-controlled timer functionality allows programmable testing of solar cells over durations ranging from seconds to days, allowing for the evaluation of solar cell operational lifetimes. The facile design of the test set-up presented here provides an opportunity for different laboratories to set-up similar systems and tweak them for performing a host of photovoltaic measurements.

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Fig. 1

Schematic of solar cell test platform

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Fig. 2

(a) Solar simulator and monochromator, (b) solar simulator shining light upward into a 6 in. quartz window in the base of glovebox, (c) optical fiber fed by 600 nm (red light) from monochromator, (d) shutter control software, and (e) lamp control software

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Fig. 3

(a) Solar cell connected to a load and (b) solar cell equivalent circuit

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Fig. 4

Schematic of the test set-up to measure solar cell current density–voltage (J–V) characteristics

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Fig. 5

Typical J–V characteristics of a solar cell

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Fig. 6

(a) Solar cell J–V test holder and PROXR switch, (b) USB connector, (c) hybrid solar cell top metal electrodes, test holder being (d) handled inside the glovebox and (e) under test, and (f) switch control software

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Fig. 7

(a) Screenshots of smu voltage sweep utility developed with labview for J–V measurement, (b) test parameters, and (c) timer functionality

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Fig. 8

Representative QE plots for a solar cell

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Fig. 9

(a) Solar cell QE measurement, (b) output of monochromator coupled into optical fiber, (c) optical fiber entering glovebox, (d) solar cell and reference detector during QE measurement, (e) 70710QE current pre-amplifier, and (f) Oriel Merlin digital lock-in amplifier

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Fig. 10

Screenshot of traq basic software for QE measurement

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Fig. 11

Steps involved in hybrid polymer solar cell fabrication

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Fig. 12

(a) Illuminated J–V characteristics and (b) QE plot of hybrid polymer solar cells




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