A Refined Prediction Parameter for Molecular Alignability in Stretched Polymers and a New Light-Harvesting Material for AlGaAs Photovoltaics
Light-harvesting concentrators have a high potential to make highly efficient but precious energy converters, such as multijunction photovoltaics, more affordable for everyday applications. They collect sunlight, including diffusively scattered light, on large areas and redirect it to much smaller areas of the highly efficiency solar cells. Among the best current concepts are pools of randomly oriented light-collecting donor molecules that transfer all excitons to few aligned acceptors reemitting the light in the direction of the photovoltaics. So far, this system has only been realized for the 350-550 nm wavelength range, suitable for AlGaInP photovoltaics. This was achieved by using acceptor molecules that aligned during mechanical stretching of polymers together with donors, that stay random in that very same material and procedure. However, until recently, very little was known about the factors that are responsible for the alignability of molecules in stretched polymers and therefore it was difficult to find suitable donors and acceptors, as well as for other spectral ranges. Recently, a structural parameter was introduced with a high predictivity for the alignability of molecules that contain rigid band-like structures or linear aromatic π-systems. However, for light concentrators in more red spectral ranges, molecular systems often contain larger and extended, planar-like π-systems for which the previously reported parameter is not directly applicable. Here, we present a refined prediction parameter also suitable for larger plane-like structures. The new parameter depends on the number of in-plane atoms divided by out-of-plane atoms as determined by computational geometry optimization and additionally the planar aspect ratio for molecules that contain only in-plane atoms. With the help of this parameter, we found a new system that can efficiently collect and redirect light for the second 500-700 nm AlGaAs layer of current world-record multijunction photovoltaics. Similarly, as the previously reported system for the blue-green layer, it has also overall absorption and re-directioning quantum efficiencies close to 80-100%. Both layers, together, already cover about 75% of the energy in the solar spectrum.