Investigating and addressing photodegradation of conjugated polymers for solar applications
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Today Qatar and the rest of the world face an urgent need for renewable energy technologies; solar powerâ the direct exploitation of the ultimate energy source for nature and our planetâ should be one of these. The pursuit of renewable energy sources, with low carbon emissions, such as solar energy is therefore a critical objective for our future. Qatar, with its $1.3 Billion investment in a polycrystalline silicon solar cell production facility is clearly building a global leadership position in the alternative energy marketplace. Many, novel, and efficient materials are developed in recent decades to cover the demands of intensified industrial process, green buildings, and renewable energy utilization, especially the need for new solar technologies. Despite the significant engineering importance of qualification tests, such as thermal stability and prediction-of-service-life for high-temperature and solar technology products, there still lacks certain parameters of great importance that one needs to address for e.g. solar coatings or adequately addressing real conditions (e.g. for photovoltaic modules). Moreover, such data would provide excellent information regarding module design and material flaws, which can eliminate premature failure and degradation. Customized methods are usually adopted to evaluate new materials during the research stage, which are limited to conventional conditions, such as low- to mid-temperature, dark measurements, and short periods. The current problem associated with the methods available is how to make up the scarcity of test procedures for performance evaluation and prediction-of-service-life of high temperature and solar energy materials. In particular procedures that have to be equivalent to long exposure periods and evaluate light induced aging mechanisms. The development of a new set of accelerated aging techniques, based on concentrated light and able to handle small and medium size materials and components is of great interest. The research plan is structured in different phases. The research plan will involve a) synthesis of the novel monomers and polymers (e.g. few milligrams)) and their quick transition from the bench scale to relevant environment validation (e.g. 0.1 to 3,000 Suns energy flux). b) In parallel, the techniques will be extended to cover larger samples or modules (e.g up to 1m2) and again under accelerated aging conditions.