Research Objective and Approach. The objective of this research is to initiate a new paradigm in organic photovoltaics for achieving higher power conversion efficiencies, that marries ferroelectrics with conjugated-polymer based photovoltaic devices. The approach utilizes unique properties of ferroelectrics, such as high dielectric-constant and permanent reversible dipoles, to perturb the optoelectronic phenomena in the bulk of and at the interfaces in organic photovoltaic devices.
Intellectual Merit. The proposed approach is multifaceted. Within the bulk of the photovoltaic layers, the local electric field and high dielectric-constant of the ferroelectrics will facilitate increased electron-hole pair dissociation, altered optical spectra, and enhanced charge transport. At the organic/electrode interfaces, these dipoles will enable increased charge collection and higher terminal voltage. The proposed marriage of ferroelectrics and conjugated-polymers also is expected to instigate new paradigms of hybrid photovoltaic/piezoelectric/pyroelectric devices for energy harvesting from multiple sources.
Broader Impacts. This project will lead to higher efficiency organic solar cells, which will impact the society by making the technology feasible for off-grid applications in the short run, and improve its promise for grid-connected large-scale use in the long run. The PI will closely integrate research with education and outreach. The PI will develop curriculum and provide multidisciplinary research experiences to graduate and undergraduate students, including those from underrepresented minorities, as well as educate K-12 teachers on photovoltaics through Iowa State University's "Toying With Technology" program. Additionally, the PI will collaborate with the Science Center of Iowa on museum exhibits to engage the general public and inspire K-12 students.