Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Dr. Stephen R. Forrest, April 7th

“Progress in Organic Photovoltaics for Power Generating Windows”



Organic thin film solar cells are now exceeding power conversion efficiencies of 20%. Even at this high efficiency, the competition with conventional Si cells puts them at a disadvantage, given the large scale and low cost manufacturing of these latter devices that has been driven by their widespread deployment. In this talk, we address the question of “What applications can organics serve that are difficult, or even unfeasible for conventional solar technologies?” The primary difference between organic and inorganic semiconductors is that organics have relatively narrow spectral absorption bands due to their excitonic nature. This opens up significant opportunities to employ organic solar cells as power generating windows that are transparent (or neutrally absorbing) in the visible, yet highly absorbing in the near infrared. To be used in this potentially enormous application space, however, organics must demonstrate long operational lifetime, acceptable aesthetics, and a low enough cost to gain deep market acceptance. In this talk, I will discuss the physics, materials science and engineering challenges for achieving efficient and highly reliability organic solar cells, as well as their potential costs in building applied and building integrated photovoltaic applications. A comparison with other common conventional and emerging thin film technologies will be presented. We will find that the opportunities for organic solar cells are every bit as large as the need for ubiquitous, solar power generation on residences and commercial buildings.



B.A. Physics, 1972, University of California, MSc and PhD Physics in 1974 and 1979, University of Michigan. In 1985, Prof. Forrest joined USC and, in 1992, moved to Princeton University. In 2006, he rejoined the University of Michigan as Vice President for Research, where he is the Peter A. Franken Distinguished University Professor. A Fellow of the APS, IEEE and OSA and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Inventors, he has received numerous awards and medals for his invention of phosphorescent OLEDs, innovations in organic LEDs, organic thin films and advances in photodetectors for optical communications. Prof. Forrest has authored ~640 papers in refereed journals, and has 361 US patents. He is co-founder or founding participant in several companies, including Sensors Unlimited, Epitaxx, Inc., NanoFlex Power Corp. (OTC: OPVS), Universal Display Corp. (NASDAQ: OLED) and Apogee Photonics, Inc., and is on the Growth Technology Advisory Board of Applied Materials. He is past Chairman of the Board of the University Musical Society and served as Chairman of the Board of Ann Arbor SPARK. He has served on the Board of Governors of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology where he is a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Electrical Engineering. He received an honorary doctorate from the Technion in 2018, and the Henry Russel Lectureship at the University of Michigan in 2019. His first book, Organic Electronics: Foundations to applications, was published in September, 2020.