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Researchers release massive database of molecules that might be useful in organic solar cells

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Posted June 25, 2013

Researchers hoping to make the next breakthrough in renewable energy now have plenty of new avenues to explore – Harvard researchers today released a massive database of more than 2 million molecules that might be useful in the construction of solar cells that rely on organic compounds that might be useful in the construction of organic solar cells for the production of renewable energy.

Developed as part of the Materials Genome Initiative launched by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) the goal of the database is to provide researchers with a starting point for research aimed at increasing the efficiency of this cheap, easy-to-produce solar energy technology.

“One of the problems with organic solar cells is, right now, there are only a handful of molecules that are in the same league with silicon in terms of efficiency,” Harvard Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Alán Aspuru-Guzik said. “This is really a guide for experimentalists. What we’re doing is democratizing access to this type of data in the same way that the biologists did with the Human Genome Project.”

“In many ways, biology is far ahead of chemistry in these efforts,” he added. “You can find the genome of a frog online, or the genome of a worm, but you cannot do that for the quantum properties of molecular materials. This database will provide access to the ‘secret sauce’ of these materials, so people can explore innovative new ideas.”

The data was generated by the Harvard Clean Energy Project in partnership with the IBM and the group of Prof. Zhenan Bao at Stanford University. It uses supercomputing power provided by a network of thousands of volunteer donors around the world.

The importance of the project, he said, was clear: Unlike their silicon-based cousins, organic solar cells are far cheaper and easier to produce – some can even be printed in a process similar to that used by inkjet printers. The flexible, lightweight cells can also be molded into virtually any shape, and can be rolled up and easily transported.

Read more at: Phys.org

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