The development of organic, polymer-based photovoltaic elements has introduced the possibility of obtaining cheap and easy-to-produce energy from light. Photoinduced electron transfer from donor-type semiconducting polymers onto acceptor-type polymers or molecules, such as C60, is the basic phenomenon utilized in these photovoltaic devices. This process mimics the early photo-effects in natural photosynthesis. The polymeric semiconductors combine the photoelectrical properties of inorganic semiconductors with the large-scale, low-cost technology of polymeric ‘plastic’ materials. To date, devices with power conversion efficiencies of ~5% have been reported. Several companies and research institutions are focusing on this field now, making power conversion efficiencies up to 8-10% highly likely in the near future.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(04)00400-6