Photovoltaic cells stand poised to usher in a new era of renewable and environmentally friendly energy, but the expense of existing silicon technology limits the commercial viability of conventional solar panels. Organic solar cells promise to dramatically reduce fabrication costs by the use of solution processing techniques; however, their efficiency is much lower than that of silicon-based devices. In order for these emerging organic technologies to be truly viable, both their efficiency and longevity need to be improved.
Research in the Kelly group looks to develop new routes to high efficiency organic solar cells. By using a combination of chemical synthesis, nanotechnology and materials science, we plan to prepare new photovoltaic cells that can more efficiently absorb light and convert it into electrical energy. Current research projects involve both bulk heterojunction solar cells and dye sensitized solar cells. They focus on the synthesis of new nanoparticle-polymer composites, the preparation of unique conjugated polymer morphologies, and the surface plasmon resonances of metal nanostructures.