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Enabling Flexo-Photovoltaics through modeling and computation

Type of activity
Competitive project
Acronym
FlexoPVComp
Funding entity
AGENCIA ESTATAL DE INVESTIGACION
Funding entity code
RTI2018-101662-B-I00
Amount
181.500,00 €
Start date
2019-01-01
End date
2021-12-31
Keywords
EDPs de alto orden, celdas solares, computational mechanics, elementos finitos, flexo-fotovoltaico, flexo-photovoltaic, flexoelectricidad, flexoelectricity, fotovoltaico, higher-order PDEs, ingeniería de gradientes de deformación, mecánica, photovoltaic, solar cells, strain gradient engineering
Abstract
Current solar cell technologies use semiconductors (prominently silicon), to convert light energy into electricity through the photovoltaic
effect (PV). This effect faces thermodynamic constraints that can only be alleviated through complex and expensive material architectures,
reaching efficiencies below 40%. Other energy materials, such as wide-bandgap ferroelectrics, can provide an alternative path to
photovoltaic devices free from thermodynamic limitations, through the so-called bulk photovoltaic effect (BPV), but suffer from very low
light absorption properties. Although the BPV effect is fundamentally restricted to non-centrosymmetric materials, in a breakthrough research result, Alexe and co-workers have demonstrated
earlier this year that strain gradients induced by a nano/micro indenter can also be used to activate the BPV effect in nominally
centrosymmetric materials with favorable bandgaps for solar absorption. This new effect, termed flexo-photovoltaic (flexo-PV) effect, could
lead to a new generation of efficient and cheap flexo-PV solar cells but lacks a theoretical framework. Importantly, it points out an
unexpected and nontrivial connection between photovoltaics and mechanics. The main goal of this project is to develop a comprehensive
theoretical and advanced computational framework for flexo-PV. We plan to use this framework to develop strain-gradient engineering
concepts to extend the flexo-PV effect to large areas in a simple and scalable way, beyond the highly localized strain gradients around the
tip of a nano/micro indenter in current proofs-of-concept. This will enable a new generation of solar cells with engineered strain gradients to
maximize the flexo-PV effect over large areas.
Scope
Adm. Estat
Plan
Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación 2017-2020
Call year
2019
Funcding program
Programa Estatal de I+D+i Orientada a los Retos de la Sociedad
Funding call
Retos de Investigación: Proyectos de I+D+i
Grant institution
Agencia Estatal De Investigacion

Participants