PerspectiveApplied Physics

When Electrons Leave Holes in Organic Solar Cells

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Science  31 Jan 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6170, pp. 492-493
DOI: 10.1126/science.1249230

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Organic solar cells convert sunlight into electricity by exploiting the electronic properties of electrically and optically active organic materials. Since the initial report of an organic solar cell reaching a power conversion efficiency near 1% (1), many efforts have brought the efficiency of carefully optimized devices in the 10 to 12% range (2). These efficiencies remain, however, well below the thermodynamic limit for single-junction organic solar cells, estimated to be >20% (3). Part of the failure in reaching the full potential of these devices is the lack of a comprehensive mechanistic picture of energy harvesting and carrier generation, transport, and recombination, particularly as a function of materials properties and active-layer morphology. On page 512 of this issue, Gélinas et al. (4) present a major step forward in the characterization of the charge-separation mechanism in organic solar cells.