Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Specialty polymers for solar energy

Technology #cu14235

Demand for reliable and efficient renewable energy technologies is increasing as fossil fuel stores decrease. Solar energy is an abundant renewable energy source with the potential to replace fossil fuels as the dominant energy source. Unfortunately, current solar cell technologies are limited by the Shockley-Queisser efficiency limit of 33.7%, producing inefficient energy yields for their costs. This technology exploits specialty polymer chemistry to capture energy more efficiently and has the potential to give rise to solar panels as an attractive sustainable energy solution.

Singlet fission produces efficient and inexpensive solar cells to compete with fossil fuels

This technology describes a method that may increase the efficiency of photovoltaics to 44% via intermolecular singlet fission. Previous attempts at exploiting singlet fission resulted in higher costs and increased structural complexity. However, such issues may be circumvented by using the properties of semiconducting polymers comprising modular and easily synthesizable building blocks. These polymers can be processed by low-cost techniques in high throughput. Consequently, this technology may not only increase solar cell efficiency and reduce costs, but also simplify device fabrication, making it potentially ideal for propelling photovoltaic technology as a more competitive alternative for fossil fuels.

A prototype of the technology has been tested.

Lead Inventor:

Luis Miguel Campos, Ph.D.


  • Solar cell devices
  • Research into electronic effects and packing interactions
  • Study of other semiconducting polymers containing thiophene dioxide.


  • Increased energy efficiency
  • Decreased cost to energy efficiency ratio
  • Easy synthesis

Patent Information:

Patent Pending

Tech Ventures Reference: IR CU14235

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