5 Organic Solar Cell Applications Explained

Organic solar cell applications are; building integration, wearables, indoor use, cheap electrification, electrochemical research and development.



1). Building Integration (as one of the Organic Solar Cell Applications)

Organic solar cell applications are generally determined by the physical, architectural and chemical characteristics of the cell.

In the case of building integration, organic solar cells have favorable characteristics like light weight, thin and flexible morphology, and transparence, all of which make them a good choice for buildings.

The thin and flexible nature of organic solar cells means that they can be installed as part of a building without much complexity or heterogeneity.

Their transparency makes them suitable for integration in windows, as well as walls and roofs [1].

Organic solar cells can be used to make thin solar shingles, which can be installed as part of a building’s roof.

Due to their characteristics, these OSCs are also versatile, meaning that they can be used for both indoor and outdoor electricity generation.

Effectiveness is dependent on organic solar cell materials, structure, and environmental conditions.

Building integration is an eco-friendly option as it poses minimal risk of aesthetic or qualitative environmental degradation.

Organic Solar Cell Applications: Building Integration (Credit: Chixoy 2010 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)
Organic Solar Cell Applications: Building Integration (Credit: Chixoy 2010 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)


2). Wearables

The application of organic solar cells in wearable technology is possible due to the adaptive characteristics of these solar cells, including their flexibility and morphology.

Studies have shown that organic solar cells can perform impressively as wearables, even under conditions of high strain [5].

Ultrathin organic solar cells can be integrated info watches [3], or fabric. This is applicable for almost all types of organic solar cells, including dye-sensitized and bulk heterojunction categories.


3). Indoor Use (as one of the Organic Solar Cell Applications)

Indoor use is one of the most unique organic solar cell applications.

The utilization of OSCs to generate electricity in indoor settings, is possible due to some characteristics of these materials.

Organic solar cells are adaptable to indoor conditions because they can convert artificial light forms such as incandescent and fluorescent light, to electricity [4]. They are also adaptable to low-intensity solar radiation that penetrates into buildings.

The advent of indoor photovoltaic applications is directly influenced by sustainable development, renewable energy and circular economy initiatives; and has been facilitated by the growth of other sustainable technologies like smart housing, Internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence.


4). Cheap Electrification

Organic solar cells are a good choice for electrification of remote areas. They are also a highly economic option, for various reasons.

One of these reasons is the fact that organic solar cells are relatively cheap to manufacture [7].

The dominance of organic raw materials in the industrial supply chain for manufacturing organic solar cells, implies that these materials are mostly renewable and less-demanding in terms of the cost of extraction and processing.

Innovative fabrication methods have also been developed and adopted over the years to increase both energy conservation and energy efficiency while producing OSCs.

Organic solar cells have huge future potentials for both urban and rural power sustainability. They can easily be integrated with smart grids and energy management systems.

Other favorable characteristics include tensile resilience, indoor and outdoor use, extended lifetime, light weight, and ultrathin design.

Because organic solar cells are made partly from organic biomass, they are largely capable of undergoing biodegradation after disposal [2]. This reduces both the risk of environmental degradation and the cost of remediation.

Recycling of organic solar cells is also less complicated and expensive than the recycling processes for other renewable technologies like conventional solar panels and wind turbines.


5). Electrochemical Research and Development (as one of the Organic Solar Cell Applications)

Organic solar cell technology has been the basis of several research and development projects which have helped to advance the knowledge and application of electrochemical processes and systems, in electricity generation.

Particularly, dye-sensitized organic solar cells have many similarities with a typical electrochemical cell, and work using a similar principle of electron accumulation and mobilization in an electrolyte [6].

As a result of these similarities, efforts to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of organic solar cells, have provided information that is equally helpful to optimize hydrogen fuel cells, deep cycle batteries, and liquid hydrogen systems that are used in spacecrafts and some hybrid cars.

Organic Solar Cell Applications: Electrochemical Research and Development (Credit: U.S. Department of Energy 2013)
Organic Solar Cell Applications: Electrochemical Research and Development (Credit: U.S. Department of Energy 2013)



Organic solar cell applications are;

1. Building Integration

2. Wearables

3. Indoor Use

4. Cheap Electrification

5. Electrochemical Research and Development



1). Anctil, A.; Lee, E.; Lunt, R. R. (2020). “Net energy and cost benefit of transparent organic solar cells in building-integrated applications.” Applied Energy 261:114429. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.114429. (Accessed 14 September 2022).

2). Kawano, K.; Pacios, R.; Poplavskvy, D.; Al-Hashimi, M.; Bradley, D. D.; Durrant, J. R. (2006). “Degradation of organic solar cells due to air exposure.” Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 90(20):3520-3530. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2006.06.041. (Accessed 15 September 2022).

3). Lu, S.; Sun, Y.; Ren, K. K.; Liu, K.; Wang, Z.; Qu, S. (2017). “Recent Development in ITO-free Flexible Polymer Solar Cells.” Polymers 10(1):5. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10010005. (Accessed 15 September 2022).

4). Minnaert, B.; Veelaert, P. (2010). “The Appropriateness of Organic Solar Cells for Indoor Lighting Conditions.” Proceedings of SPIE – The International Society for Optical Engineering 7722:77221P (11 pp.)-77221P (11 pp.). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1117/12.854774. (Accessed 15 September 2022).

5). O’Connor, T. F.; Zaretski, A. V.; Savagatrun, S.; Printz, A. D.; Wilkes, C. D.; Diaz, M. I.; Sawyer, E. J.; Lipomi, D. (2016). “Wearable organic solar cells with high cyclic bending stability: Materials selection criteria.” Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 144:438-444. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2015.09.049. (Accessed 15 September 2022).

6). Sharma, K.; Sharma, V. K.; Sharma, S. S. (2018). “Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells: Fundamentals and Current Status.” Nanoscale Research Letters 13(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/s11671-018-2760-6. (Accessed 15 September 2022).

7). Srivastava, G.; Kumar, R. (2018). “ORGANIC SOLAR CELLS-WORKING AND ADVANTAGES.” Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330778154_ORGANIC_SOLAR_CELLS-WORKING_AND_ADVANTAGES. (Accessed 15 September 2022).

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