All About Organic Solar Cells And How To Make Them
An organic solar cell is a new type of solar device that is flexible, lightweight, and affordable (it is about 1/3 cheaper than an inorganic solar cell). The main drawback of organic cells is their lower efficiency of transforming the sunlight into electricity, when compared to conventional solar cells. In general, organic cells have around a 1-3% efficiency rate, while commonplace silicon-based solar cells have around a 15-20% efficiency rate.
More efficient (10-12%) thin-film organic solar cells are also available, but they are currently manufactured at a smaller production volume. If you are looking into purchasing organic solar cells, make sure that you are satisfied with their efficiency rate. The efficiency of an organic solar cell is expected to continue improving. It is only a matter of time before the emergence of exceptionally powerful cells, considering significant improvements in the scientific research and development of solar cells made of organic materials.
The fact is that any DIY person can make an organic solar cell (aka Grätzel cell, nanocrystalline dye solar cell, or dye-sensitized solar cell) from scratch using natural purple-red dyes that are found in cherries, raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrant, and other fruits. The dye can be extracted by boiling the fruits and leaves in water. However, note that making organic cells from scratch is rather lengthy (it can take up to 24 hours to bake the required dye sensitized titanium dioxide into the glass), as well as it may be hard to get hold of the pretreated glass with one conductible side. Therefore, it is generally easier to use readily available commercial organic solar cell kits, which can be assembled into panels.
The high cost of inorganic cells and insufficient conversion rate of organic cells are the factors that may stop some homeowners from using solar cells as their electric source. However, the low cost of organic cells (3-4 times cheaper than conventional ones) allows the homeowners who have a large roof or large yard space to mount a sufficient number of panels to provide their entire home with a source of green energy. Furthermore, it would incur much lower costs in comparison to the expensive commonplace inorganic cells.
While organic solar cells are much cheaper than inorganic ones, you would need roughly twice more organic cells to produce the amount of power that silicon-based cells would produce. Therefore, organic solar cells may not be a good option for homeowners with limited roof or yard space. However, you can employ the cheaper organic cells to power your low-wattage appliances, such as cell phones and laptops.
An organic solar cell is easy to manufacture using low-cost materials. Even though lower conversion efficiency does not yet allow for their wide conventional use, organic cells have a bright future. Already now organic cells can compete with the cost of fossil fuels, as well as they are approaching the efficiency of the inorganic cells. The future will see organic solar cells becoming more efficient, more durable, and yet more affordable, allowing the use of them on a larger scale for all electrical needs.
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