Quantum Many Body Systems and
Photovoltaic technology is still dominated by crystalline Silicon, but a shift in the market has occurred in recent years, with Thin Film technologies (a-Si:H, CdTe and CIGS) taking a 20% market share in 2010. The forecasted evolution will reduce the share of crystalline Silicon and opens the market to emerging technologies, including concentrated photovoltaics and organic technologies. In particular organic photovoltaic technology, based on the “bulk heterojunction” concept, using blends of conjugated polymers and fullerene derivatives as active layers, has seen a steady increase in power conversion efficiency, reaching more than 10% for small devices, with a learning curve steeper than the historical curve of silicon-based technologies.
New approaches based on artificial photosynthesis to manufacture solar fuels which chemically store the energy harvested from the Sun are being developed. Also, if renewable energy reaches high penetration in the electricity grid (which could reach even 100%), energy storage will be a bottleneck for the technology and new concepts of battery systems in which polymeric and other organic or hybrid materials will be the main active part of the device. All of these new concepts share the need of a better understanding of energy and charge transfer processes in organic disordered or semi-ordered materials; new theoretical frameworks and methodologies, which must include quantum processes, are required to model the physical properties of the materials to be used in this new generation of energy applications.