Faces of Chemistry: Organic solar cells (BASF) – Video 2 (14+)

Hi, my name Is Ingmar Bruder. I’m a research scientist in BASF. So BASF is the largest chemical company
in the world and our business segments are plastics and performance chemicals as for example coatings or functional polymers, functional solutions, as for example construction chemicals and certainly agricultural, and oil and gas. So in the year 2050 is expected that about nine billion people will live on this
planet and most of them want to be mobile and
the question is how to find a way to ensure mobility in a
sustainable and a cost efficient way and one possibility could be to invent
cars which drive by electric engines.

So what we're doing in BASF is we are developing organic photovoltaics, organic solar
cells, and since this is a very complex topic a lot of people from different
professions have to work together for example chemists, quantum chemists
and physicists. So since we are a chemical company and
we will sell materials, chemicals, in the end of the day which can be used to produce organic solar cells we need additionally partners from
industry or from academia, to make systems, to make complete organic photovoltaic systems.

Traditional solar cells are made mainly
out of silicon and the reason for that is that it can be processed very well, it conducts very well, and it absorbs light in the right optical range. Here in these labs, my team and myself we are developing
organic photovoltaic devices and basically one of these devices you
can see here and this type of solar cell was also used in
the Smart forvision So the main difference between solar cells based on inorganic
materials for example silicon and organic solar cells is that here
dyes are used to convert light into electricity And BASF has knowledge or a lot of know-how of about over 140
years in inventing in creating new dyes and
what we did here is to invent a new dye class which can
convert light into electricity and the big advantages of these solar
cells are that they can be produced very
cheap, in a very cheap and easy way.

You can produce them in any color
basically you want to have and they are transparent. So basically what you're seeing here are different organic solar cells. You
see if they're made out of different colors different dyes and they are running a
helicopter as a demonstrator but certainly this is a demonstrator and
for future applications you want to power real devices and how that might look like you can see
here. So basically that's a mobile phone charger powered by organic transparent solar
cells basically here you see my blackberry and I can put it here on the charger and you can see here the clock appears
which means that my blackberry is charged at the moment.

So if you want to design the perfect solar cell it should be black because certainly a black color
is absorbing all the visible light However with organic solar cells we can produce
any color you want to have for aesthetic reasons So if you're buying nowadays solar cells for
your house you have a guarantee that the solar
cells will live for about twenty years.

They're pretty efficient and you pay something between one euros and two euros per watt peak So what we're doing actually here in our lab is to increase efficiency of the organic solar cells to increase the
lifetime in order to catch up with existing technologies and even more important that we are
developing here the production mechanism allowing us to produce our solar cells in the end of the day for much cheaper conditions So if we are talking about market
entrance of organic photovoltaics we have to distinguish between different
markets. For example if you're talking about consumer electronics there will be first products available
probably in the next few years. If we're talking about construction then
the properties or the issues of the solar
cells are much tougher to handle, for example we have to provide a lifetime of twenty years, we have to provide efficiencies of two
digit values and this will take some more years.

So as a scientist you're not
reproducing things what other people have done before or you're not waiting for orders. As a scientist you have to be creative, you
have to be foolish and that's how I am and therefore I like my job..

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