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Organic solar cells

C-Vitamin boosts not only your immune system but also solar cells

C-vitamin is renowned for its crucial role in our bodies, strengthening our immune system and overall health. However, now, this vitamin is stepping into the limelight to enhance the efficiency and longevity of solar cells. A new scientific article by Vida Engmann from SDU CAPE sheds light on the beneficial effects of C-vitamins for organic solar cells.

By Sune Holst, , 11/8/2023

Solar energy is one of the most promising technologies in sustainable energy production. For years, organic solar cells have been in focus as a green and cost-effective means to convert sunlight into electricity.

However, there has always been a challenge - the lifespan of these solar cells. Now, a researcher at the Technical Faculty of the University of Southern Denmark, Vida Engmann, has discovered that could revolutionize this technology: C-vitamins can extend the lifespan of organic solar cells.

- We thought that if C-vitamins can keep us healthy and fit, they might do the same for solar cells, and it has been a great success. So, who knows, maybe we should now try the rest of the vitamin pills, says Vida Engmann with a twinkle in her eye.

She co-authors a scientific article titled 'Vitamin C for Photo-Stable Non-fullerene-acceptor-Based Organic Solar Cells,' published in the prestigious scientific journal, the American Chemical Society. The first author of the article is Sambathkumar Balasubramanian, also from SDU Cape.

A healthy body and healthy solar cells

For many of us, C-vitamin is synonymous with a more robust immune system and a healthy body. C-vitamin, or ascorbic acid, protects our cells from damage caused by free radicals and UV radiation. It gives us the strength to ward off infections and helps us stay healthy and energetic. But what does this have to do with organic solar cell technology?

- It turns out that C-vitamins can also have a similar protective effect on organic solar cells. Organic solar cells are carbon-based materials that can degrade over time, especially when exposed to sunlight and other external factors. This degradation is a significant reason why the lifespan of organic solar cells has been limited, explains Vida Engmann.

Vida Engmann and her research team have conducted extensive laboratory experiments and discovered that C-vitamins act as antioxidants for organic solar cells in the same way they protect our bodies from free radicals.

C-vitamins reduce the oxidation of the active materials in the solar cells, thereby preventing their deterioration over time. The results of her research are remarkable and open the door to more durable and reliable organic solar cell technologies.

- When we consume C-vitamin through our diet, our bodies get the necessary building blocks to protect themselves. Similarly, organic solar cells, when equipped with C-vitamins, can shield themselves from destructive forces like UV radiation and oxygen, significantly extending their lifespan. This is akin to how C-vitamins strengthen our immune system and help prevent diseases, says Vida Engman

Curiosity is crucial for research

If organic solar cells can remain effective and reliable for a longer time, they can play an even more significant role in providing sustainable energy to our society. This research project exemplifies how the intersection of biology and technology demonstrates how nature's mechanisms can inspire innovation across disciplines.

This, of course, delights the leader of SDU CAPE and SCC SOLEN, Professor Morten Madsen, who has been at the forefront of research units leading in organic solar cells for many years.

- This curiosity-driven research is unique in that it addresses some fundamental problems from a purely curiosity-driven approach while also tackling a critical technological problem. Curiosity-driven research is precisely what we are trying to combine and research and develop in SDU CAPE and SCC SOLEN, and this serves as an excellent example of it, says the professor.

So, the next time you take a C-vitamin tablet to boost your immune system, you can think about how the same vitamins also work in the solar cells on your roof to protect our planet from climate change. Our solar cell technology might be a bit healthier, thanks to the power of nature – C-vitamins.

Editing was completed: 08.11.2023