Like all solar cells, the polymer solar cell converts light into electricity, by converting a flux of photons (light) into a flux of charged particles (a current). This conversion process is made possible by the combination of several types of materials, all having distinct electrical and optical characteristics as described in the layer stack, but most importantly is the inclusion of semiconductors.
The layer stack
Making a polymer solar cell is often done using polymers dissolved in organic solvents, which are transferred by printing or coating methods to a substrate. The materials are added in layers in a certain order to build a solar cell stack. The materials needed in the solar cell stack are; a central active (light absorbing) layer, which translate the impinging photons into separate electrons and holes, a selective charge transport layer on each side of the active layer, allowing only passage of either electrons (ETL) or holes (HTL), and finally two electrodes for extracting the charges from the solar cell, with at least one of the electrodes having a requirement of transparency such that the light can pass through and reach the active layer.