Solar Energy is the only hope for the entire human race for the future .But as a common man buying and installing the equipment necessary to harness the power of the Sun can be expensive.But can you imagine that if you could print your own solar panels?
The researchers at Australia’s Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) — a collaboration between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the University of Melbourne, Monash University and industry partners — have managed to print photovoltaic cells the size of an A3 sheet of paper.
The Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium is a collaboration between academia and industry based in Victoria. The consortium brings together world leaders in complementary fields of synthesis, characterisation and device assembly with industry players who are leaders in solar cell manufacture, lifetime testing, materials, substrates and printing on plastic. The consortium aims to produce prototype organic solar cells printed on plastic
Scientists have produced the largest flexible, plastic solar cells in Australia – 10 times the size of what they were previously able to .According to CSIRO materials scientist Dr Scott Watkins, printing cells on such a large scale opens up a huge range of possibilities for pilot applications.
Printed Solar Cell
“There are so many things we can do with cells this size,” he says. “We can set them into advertising signage, powering lights and other interactive elements. We can even embed them into laptop cases to provide backup power for the machine inside.”
VICOSC’s new solar cell printer
Using semiconducting inks, the researchers print the cells straight onto paper-thin flexible plastic or steel. With the ability to print at speeds of up to ten metres per minute, this means they can produce one cell every two seconds.”Eventually we see these being laminated to windows that line skyscrapers,” Dr Jones says. “By printing directly to materials like steel, we’ll also be able to embed cells onto roofing materials.”
The organic photovoltaic cells, which produce 10–50 watts of power per square metre, could even be used to improve the efficiency of more traditional silicon solar panels.n smaller, lab-scale devices, power outputs equivalent to over 80W per square metre have been achieved.”The different types of cells capture light from different parts of the solar spectrum. So rather than being competing technologies, they are actually very complementary,” Dr Watkins says.
The consortium has developed proceses that spray coating, reverse gravure and slot-dye coating as well as screen printing.Lifetime testing of modules is ongoing, with current studies showing stable outdoor performance beyond six months. The consortium anticipates lifetimes of several years will be achievable in the near future.
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video courtesy of CSIRO
image courtesy of CSIRO