Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered an effect of deuterium, also known as heavy hydrogen, on the analysis of polymer-based solar devices, which may affect how organic solar cells can be constructed. In an article reported by R&D Magazine, the scientists said that the deuterium is used to perform a neutron scattering analysis. Normally, the deuterium is a labeling tool, and has no effect on the substance being studied. But when used on the polymers, deuterium changed the devices’ electronic performance significantly. This means deuterium could potentially be used in the design and structuring of the polymers as solar cells.
More research needs to be done, of course, but the implications could be widespread in a variety of organically-based solar devices such as polymer paint that could be sprayed onto windows to make them into solar cells.