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Pure Appl. Chem., 2008, Vol. 80, No. 10, pp. 2079-2089

The future of solar photovoltaics: A new challenge for chemical physics

Oleg Shevaleevskiy

Solar Energy Conversion Laboratory, Emanuel Institute of Biochemical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Kosygin St. 4, Moscow 119334, Russia

Abstract: In recent times, photovoltaic (PV) technologies for solar energy conversion have gained greater recognition. World production of PV cells and modules over the last five years grew at an average of around 40 % a year. The history of modern PV science started more than half a century ago. However, the period that followed exploited the mid-20th century developments in the basics of solid-state physics and semiconductor science. With only a few exceptions, almost no major achievements were attained during a long period of time. The present paper offers an attempt of a critical retrospective look at the history and current progress of solar PV research from a personal viewpoint. It also addresses the current status of research on conventional solid-state PV devices and compares it with the alternative organic and molecular PV systems. The paper briefly describes the potential of new types of organic and mesoscopic dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs). The paper shows that chemical physics rather than traditional solid-state physics is expected to lead to exciting challenges in the future of PV science.