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Plextronics Announces Critical Developments for the Organic Solar Market


Use of Plexcore PV 2000 for energy harvesting applications, breakthrough manufacturing method are key developments

Plextronics has made two announcements related to the company’s organic solar inks, including the use of Plexcore PV 2000 for energy harvesting applications and a breakthrough manufacturing method that allows for low-temperature processing of organic photovoltaics (OPV).

Mary Boone, director of ink business development for Plextronics, Inc., spoke June 1 at the Large-Area, Organic & Printed Electronics Convention (LOPE-C) in Frankfurt, Germany on energyharvesting applications for organic photovoltaics (OPV). Her presentation highlighted energy harvesting as a growing market opportunity for printed solar cells and, in particular, will discussed the significant advantages that the Plexcore PV 2000 ink set has compared to other power sources.

Plexcore PV 2000 is an ink set that will establish OPV as the leading power source for the indoor energy harvesting market. It delivers higher performance across a wide variety of fluorescent lighting conditions compared to amorphous silicon solar cells; contains safe, non-toxic materials unlike the heavy metals found in typical batteries; and will be lower cost than other power sources due to the application of high-throughput, roll-to-roll printing processes for manufacturing. In addition, it shows a 30 to 40 percent increase in indoor power density as compared to conventional organic solar technology (i.e., P3HT:PCBM).

Ms. Boone describes point-of-purchase displays in the retail environment as one example of an energy harvesting application.

“Working with our partners and customers, we’ve talked with major retailers and consumer goods companies in the U.S. who want to replace the traditional paper signage used in stores today with low-cost, animated point-of-purchase displays that are self-powered by OPV,” said Ms. Boone. “Retailers don’t want the ongoing cost and disruption of having to purchase and replace conventional batteries in these displays, so there is tremendous interest in using printable OPV as the power source for these new displays. By enabling the low-cost manufacturing of OPV through our Plexcore PV 2000, we are helping to get this market off the ground,” Ms. Boone said.

As another step toward low-cost manufacturing, Plextronics has developed a breakthrough manufacturing method that allows for low-temperature processing of OPV. While previous industry standard techniques required a glass substrate to be annealed at temperatures at or above 110°C, the proprietary method developed at Plextronics enables annealing at less than 65°C. This new method is expected to reduce manufacturing costs by enabling the use of less expensive substrates, especially once the process is transferred to flexible substrates such as plastic.

Plextronics’ vice president of business development Jim Dietz commented on the significance of this development.

“Our customers and partners all over the world are looking to OPV as the way to manufacture low-cost, flexible solar devices. One of the major hurdles facing the industry in that regard is being able to manufacture devices in an environment that doesn’t require high temperatures because it is expensive to process inks at these temperatures and it could damage flexible substrates,” Mr. Dietz said. “The low-temperature process we are developing at Plextronics is expected to be fully compatible with roll-to-roll manufacturing equipment so we see that as one possible pathway for our customers.”