The focus of my research is to improve the longevity of organic photovoltaic active layer materials by incorporating self-healing chemistries to repair mechanical damage and the ensuing electronic property degradation. Mechanical degradation can occur during processing, as well as during device operation through thermal cycling. Healing this damage can improve the device’s usable lifetime, thus making it more cost-competitive; however, as yet no investigations into self-healing materials for solar cells have been performed. My research in the next year will be to incorporate a well-known self-healing reaction, thiol-disulfide exchange, into poly(3-hexylthiophene) [P3HT] by using simple and cheap chemistry for ready translation into industrial applications. Following incorporation, the self-healing conditions will be optimized, ensuring the device can self-heal under conditions experienced during typical solar cell operation. The long-term goal of this research is to create an optimized self-healing solar cell by investigating several self-healing chemistries including boronic esters and Diels-Alder reactions.
Advisor Christine Luscombe -Materials Science and Engineering