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Solar Cells Painted solar cells

Published on August 31st, 2009 | by Mariella Moon

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Printable and Paintable Solar Cells Make Production More Affordable

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August 31st, 2009 by
 

Painted solar cells

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A team of scientists from the University of Texas at Austin has developed a type of spray-on solar cells that could lower costs of production dramatically.

The concept of spray-on solar cells is by no means a new approach – the Australian National University has been working on one for the past three years. The University of Texas at Austin team led by engineer Brian Korgel uses copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) as the main component for the ink used to manufacture the solar cell. This nanoparticle ink allows manufacturers to completely deviate from the conventional expensive method of solar cell production. Using this ink, solar cells can be made through a roll-to-roll printing process, similar to how newspapers are printed. Plastic substrate and stainless steel are a couple of possible bases for the printing.

The way the researchers see it, the ink might also be potent when painted on bare walls of buildings. Although yet to be achieved, this possibility gives the spray-on solar cell the potential to become widely-used as a building-integrated photovoltaic. “You’d have to paint the light-absorbing material and a few other layers as well,” Korgel said. “This is one step in the direction towards paintable solar cells.” However, with the current prototype displaying an efficiency of around one percent, Korgel’s team still has a long way to go. “If we get to 10 percent, then there’s real potential for commercialization,” Korgel said. “If it works, I think you could see it being used in three to five years.”

*Image Credit: reiner_kraft @ flickr under a Creative Commons License

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is a freelance writer with a passion for clean technology, green gadgetry, and environmental issues.



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  • hemanth

    This is really cool, is there more resources about solar paint and any other new technology.

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  • http://www.SolarElectricityHandbook.com SolarBook

    Amorphous panels produced in this way have typically provided significantly less power than normal amorphous panels. And using a ‘solar paint’ to paint onto uneven surfaces such as the sides of buildings screams inefficiency to me.

    The technology is definately worth working on however, because of the potential cost savings that could be achieved with being able to paint solar panels. Once the technology has been shown to work, the manufacturing processes can be cleaned up.

  • http://www.SolarElectricityHandbook.com SolarBook

    Amorphous panels produced in this way have typically provided significantly less power than normal amorphous panels. And using a ‘solar paint’ to paint onto uneven surfaces such as the sides of buildings screams inefficiency to me.

    The technology is definately worth working on however, because of the potential cost savings that could be achieved with being able to paint solar panels. Once the technology has been shown to work, the manufacturing processes can be cleaned up.

  • solarweasel

    this isn’t new. companies like ascent solar (and others) have developed roll-to-roll CIGS manufacturing processes years ago.

    yes, the process is faster and cheaper than conventional cell growth, but CIGS are have poor efficiency and durability issues… their manufacturing also requires many highly toxic chemicals, and is hardly a ‘green’ process

  • solarweasel

    this isn’t new. companies like ascent solar (and others) have developed roll-to-roll CIGS manufacturing processes years ago.

    yes, the process is faster and cheaper than conventional cell growth, but CIGS are have poor efficiency and durability issues… their manufacturing also requires many highly toxic chemicals, and is hardly a ‘green’ process

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