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Regioselective manipulation of carbon spheres to revolutionize the efficiency of solar cells (RegioSolar)

20th national competition for scientific and technical research

New materials: fundamentals and applications

Senior Researcher : Xavier Ribas Salamaña

Research Centre or Institution : Parc Científic i Tecnològic de la Universitat de Girona


The enormous consumption of fossil fuels and its harmful consequences on climate change make demands the finding of new renewable energy sources. The most obvious is solar energy and, therefore, it is essential to improve the efficiency of current solar cells. One of the main electroactive components of organic and perovskite-based solar cells are the monosubstituted derivatives of C60 and C70 fullerenes. This is an obvious limitation since it is currently not possible to access poly-substituted fullerenes due to the difficulty of manipulating these spherical carbon molecules regioselectively with more than one adduct. This project aims to synthesize poly-derivatives of fullerenes with absolute control of their regiofunctionalization through the use of supramolecular masks, which consist of modular capsules of nanoscopic size capable of encapsulating fullerenes and exposing limited areas of their sphere. New supramolecular masks tunable in shape and dimensions will be designed to control the encapsulation capacity of fullerenes. The nature of the poly-functionalization of encapsulated fullerenes will be prioritized (focusing on C60, C70 and C84) based on their electronic characteristics to optimize the efficiency of the new generation of solar cells.  

The achievement of the goals of this project will represent a paradigm shift in fullerene chemistry, as it will provide an unprecedented way to synthesize each of the poly-functionalized fullerenes as pure isomers, and enable their applicability in photovoltaic devices aiming at achieving the ambitious goal of 35% efficiency in energy conversion.

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