Researchers have fabricated the very first bulk-hetero-junction solar cell in the UAE, marking another technological breakthrough for the country in clean energy. Ms. Mejd Alsari, a UAE national student, and Dr. Samuele Lilliu, a post-doctoral fellow working at the Nano-Optics and Optoelectronics Research (NOOR) Laboratory under Dr. Marcus Dahlem, Assistant Professor, Microsystems Engineering, have fabricated the first polymer-based organic photovoltaic solar cell (OPV), which can also be conveniently printed on flexible substrates. This has been achieved using Masdar Institute’s clean room facilities internally without any assistance from external fabrication facilities or expertise. The OPVs with advanced aesthetic characteristics such as colors and design will be developed with inkjet-printing deposition techniques. These prototypes could be highly interesting for Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) applications and designers globally and in the region. Further to the OPVs research, large area organic photo-detectors based on the same technology, with potential applications in the medical, security and entertainment industry could also be prepared. A start-up venture based in Masdar City to transfer prototypes into final products may also be set up at a later stage. The fabrication process used to manufacture these cells is environment-friendly and does not produce any toxic waste.
The novel research project focuses on improving the performance of organic/hybrid bulk hetero-junction (BHJ) photo-detectors such as OPVs and organic photodiodes (OPDs). It equally aims to stress on the efficiency enhancement, lifetime lengthening, and fabrication cost reduction of OPV/OPD devices. Combining these three aspects are the focus of Mejd Alsari’s master research work. The project will keep a balance between academic research and the development of OPVs/OPDs based product prototypes that could target markets in the GCC and developing countries.