Developing a Portable Organic Solar Cell Kit Suitable for Students to Fabricate and Test Solar Cells in the Laboratory

Nicolas C. Nicolaidis, Phoebe V. Hollott, Benjamin Stanwell, Isaac A. Gill, Justine E. Bull, Sean Bentsen, Jason Iredale, Ted M. Pappenfus, Paul C. Dastoor, Krishna Feron, Matthew J. Griffith, Natalie P. Holmes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    An organic solar cell fabrication kit has been developed for demonstration in both undergraduate teaching classes and high school laboratories to promote the growing field of renewable energy and to facilitate empirical comprehension of solar technology. The laboratory focuses on fabricating organic photovoltaics (solar cells) and testing the efficiency of power generation. By restricting substances to nontoxic coating inks, and a Pb-free alloy for the cathode, chemical hazards are minimized. Usually, organic solar cell fabrication requires the use of expensive laboratory equipment only found in a university or an industry environment, such as fume hoods, large spin coaters, nitrogen glove boxes, and metal evaporation systems. Importantly, the solar cell kit has been specifically developed to remove the need for accessing this large and expensive equipment: nontoxic inks are used such that fume hoods are not necessary, a portable miniature spin coater has been developed such that large spin coaters with a vacuum connection are not required, and a low-melting-point (62 °C) Pb-free alloy has been trialed such that access to high-vacuum metal evaporation equipment is not necessary. The exercise utilizes a pedagogical framework of preliminary predictive exercises, practical verification of device optimization and engineering to illuminate the key working principles of a solar cell, and a post-exercise quiz to provide feedback and assess embedded knowledge. This experiment is an introductory lesson in renewable energy and gives students exposure to the chemistry, physics, and materials science concepts of organic electronics.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)3751-3757
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Chemical Education
    Volume97
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Oct 13 2020

    Keywords

    • Applications of Chemistry
    • First-Year Undergraduate/General
    • Hands-On Learning/Manipulatives
    • High School/Introductory Chemistry
    • Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary
    • Laboratory Instruction
    • Materials Science
    • Organic Chemistry
    • Second-Year Undergraduate
    • Semiconductors

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