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Kippelen plastic solar cell

Kippelen plastic solar cell

From left to right, Jaewon Shim, Professor Bernard Kippelen, Canek Fuentes-Hernandez, and Yinhua Zhou (first author on the Science article) from Georgia Tech, displaying a completely plastic solar cell.
Photo credit: Georgia Institute of Technology

Publications collage

Publications collage

An important goal for CISSEM is to facilitate highly visible and wide-spread dissemination of the results of our interfacial research.

Students postdocs and scientists receive outstanding training

Students postdocs and scientists receive outstanding training

Students, postdocs, & scientists in CISSEM experience outstanding training. photo by Jim Bosch, NREL

GT graduate student in clean room

GT graduate student in clean room

photo credit: Yongjin Kim, Georgia Tech

Bredas-Kahn July 2013 highlight

Bredas-Kahn July 2013 highlight

Read more about this collaborative research in our July 2013 Highlight

Arizona graduate student working in the lab

Arizona graduate student working in the lab

photo by davidsandersphotos.com

News & Updates

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In her current role as an Analytical Scientist at SABIC Innovative Plastics, CISSEM alumnus Dr. Anne Lemon [née Simon] communicates daily with a wide variety of people with different knowledge levels about developing capabilities on cutting-edge instrumentation. Her extensive training in the CISSEM Saavedra research group on technique development helped prepare her for her current career. While in CISSEM, Dr. Lemon designed an innovative instrument coupling transient absorbance spectroscopy to an attenuated total reflectance (ATR) platform to make sensitive optical kinetic measurements on thin films and organic monolayers.  Her frequent collaboration with fellow CISSEM member Ajaya Sigdel, a physics graduate student from the Berry research group at NREL, provided Dr. Lemon with invaluable experience applicable to her chosen profession. To quote Dr. Lemon, “As a chemist, one thing that became apparent was the difference between our fundamental knowledge and terminology for similar processes.  We had to dedicate some time to teach each other what we knew, how we viewed the problems and reasoning for potential solutions. This type of exposure to alternative ways of approaching problems was very valuable and is extremely relevant to my current career.” Dr. Lemon’s advice to current and incoming CISSEM members is to “use your time at CISSEM to collaborate and become a better, interdisciplinary problem solver.”


Research funded as part of CISSEM at Georgia Tech (Brédas, Marder), The University of Arizona (Ratcliff) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Berry) combines theory and experiments, in excellent agreement, to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the energetics for a gallium‐doped zinc oxide (GZO) surface modified with five different organic phosphonic acids (PAs) to tune surface and interface properties. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations (with a repeated-slab approach) and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy measurements reveal and describe changes in the density of states features at the GZO valence band edge after PA depositions. Such insight into energy level alignments of the PA molecule frontier molecular orbitals with the valence band edge and Fermi level of the GZO surface, are important for organic optoelectronic applications. The new interfacial states created by PA surface modifiers can impact charge injection or extraction with adjacent active organic layers, which can be critical to optoelectronic device performance. This excellent agreement between measured and DFT-calculated energy level alignments and density of states features is rather unusual – attributed here to the strong bonding between PAs and GZO surface zinc atoms.

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Organic photovoltaic solar cells potentially offer light weight, mechanical flexibility, and low cost roll-to-roll fabrication – especially when manufactured by vacuum-free processes in ambient air with polymeric electrodes. Transfer lamination is a dry process that avoids issues from wetting and film damage caused by solvents used in spin coating or other additive wet-deposition methods. Research funded as part of CISSEM at Georgia Tech (Kippelen) has demonstrated the first semitransparent, all-plastic solar cells prepared in ambient air using sequential dry film-transfer lamination of the photoactive layer and a high-conductivity polymeric top electrode. Current–voltage characteristics of our all-plastic cells were successfully measured as a function of light irradiance over five orders of magnitude; from the dark to the one-sun standard solar spectrum. By using dry film-transfer lamination we realize a very low density of defects for the active layer – much superior to a spin-coated active layer. Consequently, these all-plastic solar cells have a high photovoltaic dynamic range. They produce a photovoltaic response even when the one-sun incident irradiance is attenuated by as much as one million. The extremely low dark current under reverse bias shows the potential of dry film-transfer lamination to produce quality, well-interfaced, low-defect active layers, while easing solvent selection for organic electronics. Our results demonstrate the prospects of organic solar cells for light-weight, portable, stand-by power generation under room light, and even weaker, illumination.

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Message From The Director

Neal Armstrong and CISSEM map

Welcome to the Center for Interface Science: Solar Electric Materials.  We are an EFRC established in 2009, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of ScienceOffice of Basic Energy Sciences which contribute to our nation’s development of economical, terawatt-level solar energy sources for the 21st century. CISSEM is comprised of a great team of scientists, engineers, and staff located at major universities and research centers in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, New Jersey, and Washington. An integral part of our mission is to inspire, recruit, and train future energy scientists and leaders in the basic science of solar electric energy conversion.  Our research is focused on the basic science underpinning the development of thin-film photovoltaic energy conversion technologies by understanding and controlling the electronic properties of critical regions called “interfaces” on nanometer length scales.  The chemical composition and energetics of these interfaces significantly affect the overall efficiency and lifetime of solar cells.

Neal R. Armstrong



Center for Interface Science: Solar Electric Materials, an Energy Frontier Research Center
funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences,
under Award Number DE-SC0001084
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