Solar Energy Research
The Earth receives an incredible supply of solar energy and research is being pursued since long to harvest it for electricity generation and storage. Silicon and thin film based solar cell technologies has been used traditionally, however, the need for large scale low carbon solar electricity production has become increasingly important for reasons of energy security and climate change mitigation. In this regard, the research on promising third generation solar cell technologies such as Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC), Organic/Polymer Photovoltaics (OPVs) and Hybrid Solar Cells (HSCs) has drawn maximum attention in recent times. The application of nanomaterials, adaptation and adoption of nano-technological principles and the advances in synthetic organic, inorganic and polymer chemistry are being used to develop these solar cells and the availability of wide array of low cost and easily proceesible materials is the reason for its growing popularity with a potential of large scale energy production. CSIR-IICT has started its endeavour in this arena way back in 2001 with Aisin Cosmos R&D Co.Ltd., Japan (a sister concern of Toyota Group) with an objective of the development of low cost durable materials for DSSC. This collaboration has been beneficial for the institute for capacity building, skill development and generation of trained human resources in this area of research. The design and development of several high molar extinction coefficient Ru(II) polypyridyl complexes (modified red and black dye), pigment based sensitizers (Porphyrins & Phthalocyanines), novel liquid/gel/hole transport materials, new fabrication methods for durability of the device has been some of the technical highlights of this collaboration. Another achievement is the scale-up of Ru(II) polypyridyl complexes up to 50 gm level which has been successfully transferred to industry through DSIR sponsored project.
Government of India has launched Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission in 2010 with an ambitious target of deploying 20,000 MW grid connected solar power by 2022. In this connection CSIR has launched several mega solar energy projects under the umbrella of “Technologies And Products for Solar energy Utilization through Networks (TAPSUN)”. With the firm footing in DSSC technologies and its expertise in synthetic organic/polymer/ materials chemistry CSIR-IICT is taking part in several projects of TAPSUN programme. Beside this DST has also funded the ESCORT and APEX project on excitonic solar cells.