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Photo Battery Achieves Competitive Voltage
Researchers from the Universities of Freiburg and Ulm have developed a monolithically integrated photo battery using organic active materials
Networked intelligent devices and sensors can improve the energy efficiency of consumer products and buildings by monitoring their consumption in real time. Miniature devices like these being developed under the concept of the Internet of Things require energy sources that are as compact as possible in order to function autonomously. Monolithically integrated batteries that simultaneously generate, convert, and store energy in a single system could be used for this purpose. A team of scientists at the University of Freiburg’s Cluster of Excellence Living, Adaptive, and Energy-Autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS) has developed a monolithically integrated photo battery consisting of an organic polymer-based battery and a multi-junction organic solar cell. The battery, presented by Rodrigo Delgado Andrés and Dr. Uli Würfel, University Freiburg, and Robin Weßling and Prof. Dr. Birgit Esser, University of Ulm, is the first monolithically integrated photo battery made of organic materials to achieve a discharge potential of 3.6 volts. It is thus among the first systems of this kind capable of powering miniature devices. The team published their results in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.
Combination of a multi-junction solar cell and a dual-ion battery
The researchers developed a scalable method for the photo battery which allows them to manufacture organic solar cells out of five active layers. “The system achieves relatively high voltages of 4.2 volts with this solar cell,” explains Weßling. The team combined this multi-junction solar cell with a so-called dual-ion battery, which is capable of being charged at high currents, unlike the cathodes of conventional lithium batteries. With careful control of illumination intensity and discharge rates, a photo battery constructed in this way is capable of rapid charging in less than 15 minutes at discharge capacities of up to 22 milliampere hours per gram (mAh g-1). In combination with the averaged discharge potential of 3.6 volts, the devices can provide an energy density of 69 milliwatt hours per gram (mWh g-1) and a power density of 95 milliwatts per gram (mW g-1). “Our system thus lays the foundation for more in-depth research and further developments in the area of organic photo batteries,” says Weßling.
About the Cluster of Excellence livMatS
The vision of the Cluster of Excellence Living, Adaptive, and Energy-Autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS) is to combine the best of both worlds – nature and technology. livMatS develops lifelike materials systems inspired by nature. These systems adapt autonomously to their environment, harvest clean energy from their surroundings, and are insensitive to or able to recover from damage.
- Original publication: Andrés, R. D., Wessling, R., Büttner, J., Pap, L., Fischer, A., Esser, B., & Würfel, U. (2023). Organic photo-battery with high operating voltage using a multi-junction organic solar cell and an organic redox-polymer-based battery. Energy & Environmental Science. DOI: 10.1039/d3ee01822a
- Prof. Dr. Birgit Esser heads the Chair in Organic Chemistry at the Institute of Organic Chemistry II and Advanced Materials at the University of Ulm. She is a member of the Clusters of Excellence Post Lithium Storage (POLiS) at Ulm University and Living, Adaptive, and Energy-Autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS) at the University of Freiburg.
- Dr. Uli Würfel leads the group “Organic and Perovskite Solar Cells” at FMF and FIT at the University of Freiburg and is a member of the Cluster of Excellence livMatS at the University of Freiburg. In addition, he is head of the research topic “Organic and Perovskite Photovoltaics” at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE).
- Rodrigo Delgado Andrés is pursuing a doctorate under Dr. Uli Würfel at the Cluster of Excellence livMatS.
- Robin Weßling is pursuing a doctorate under Prof. Dr. Birgit Esser at the Cluster of Excellence livMatS.
- The study was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) (livMatS – EXC 2193).