Air Products of Lehigh Valley, Pa., and Konarka Inc. of Lowell, Mass., have been selected by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to conduct research and development on transparent, flexible solar modules for windows and other building-integrated applications. The $4.7 million award is part of NIST's Advanced Technology Program, which looks to foster new technology developments by U.S. companies.
‘Air Products is pleased to be working with Konarka, a global leader in organic photovoltaic (OPV) technology, on this project,’ says John Dickenson, senior business development manager at Air Products. ‘Our novel polythiophene-based HIL (hole injection layer) materials have demonstrated clear lifetime enhancement in conventional OPVs, and we look forward to developing new grades suitable for transparent devices.’
OPV technology offers the potential for selecting materials for varying levels of transparency, capable of absorbing narrowly or broadly in one or more regions of the visible and near-infrared spectrum. Air Products will develop high-conductivity polymers with more efficient charge injection capability in OPV cells, thereby improving overall cell electrical performance. Konarka will further develop its patented, transparent, metallic grid electrode technology for the new cell and module architecture.
According to the companies, the OPV technology will be suitable for use in windows capable of controlling transparency for privacy, regulating the wavelength of light passing through for energy conservation, and for aesthetics. Since the materials are capable of harvesting indoor light as well as outdoor light, the solar modules can be integrated into building sensors, battery chargers, lighting and displays, and wireless security monitoring systems.