Duncan Clark, NextGen Nano: Developing the Next Generation of Solar Panels

Researchers from NextGen Nano, a nanotechnology specialist, recently made significant advancements in the development of organic photovoltaic (OPV) technology. In a paper published in the Advanced Energy Materials journaltitled High-Performance Tandem Organic Solar Cells Using HSolar as the Interconnecting Layer, the team described findings from its recent studies, which many believe could pave the way for future groups to develop more efficient multi-junction OPVs based on the team’s recipe.

The NextGen Nano team used a relatively simple material called HSolar as an interconnecting layer with multiple materials in tandem solar cells. HSolar demonstrated high efficiency and stability, with the NextGen Nano Group’s findings replicated by several independent research groups.

As Duncan Clark, NextGen Nano’s Director of Operations pointed out, solar technology has faced significant challenges in terms of replication and efficiency that have hindered commercialisation. NextGen Nano has taken vital steps in addressing these difficulties, demonstrating the efficiency of OPVs in a way that is replicable by independent bodies.

Led by Franky So, NextGen Nano’s Chief Technology Officer, working in collaboration with research scientist Dr Carr Ho, the NextGen Nano team’s primary objective was to enhance efficiency of OPVs, since they have traditionally been limited by organic semiconductor materials’ narrow absorption bands.

Many researchers in the field have addressed the issue in recent years by layering complementary solar subcells, effectively creating a tandem or multi-junction OPV capable of achieving higher efficiencies. By using HSolar as an interconnecting layer (ICL), the NextGen Nano team provided a physical and electrical contact between subcells that proved essential in minimising energy losses.

To date, developing an ICL that does not interfere with surrounding layers has proved challenging. NextGen Nano’s PolyPower research team demonstrated a new HSolar/Zinc Oxide ICL that can be produced relatively easily using commercially available raw materials, which allows efficient charge recombination without compromising on open-circuit voltage. The team also demonstrated the OPV’s impressive efficiency in a way that can be replicated outside of the core research team, a factor that could prove critical in commercialisation.

NextGen Nano’s PolyPower team shared its recipe and results with independent research groups, with the ultimate aim of validating result repeatability. Other teams running simulations achieved efficiencies of up to 16.1%, with studies undertaken by the NextGen Nano team suggesting that this figure could be increased to 22% by incorporating state-of-the-art organic photoactive substances to act as tandem cells.

The high-tech company – with its experienced management team of professionals including Matthew Stone, NextGen Nano’s Chairman – is a nanotechnology developer conducting pioneering research into new, clean technologies. The organisation has undertaken significant studies in the field, advancing OPV technology over several years while supporting the next generation of flexible, high efficiency solar panels.

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