Australian scientists are printing solar cells onto plastic. It’s faster, cheaper and easier to use than traditional silicon panels. With the idea of covering buildings in lightweight solar panels, commercialisation stage isn’t far off. The Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium behind the project, has scientists from the CSIRO, Melbourne and Monash universities who have been involved and working on printing solar cells since 2007. The team rapidly produced results, creating coin-sized solar cells and increasing them to A3 size.
Dr Scholes said the team used commercial printers that were modified to take solar ink.
“It’s very cheap. The way in which it looks and works is quite different to conventional silicon rooftop solar,” she said.
“It can be made to be semitransparent – we can use it for a tinted window scenario.”
Dr Scholes said any plastic surface could be substituted for solar panels. That made it perfect for powering up a skyscraper, she said.
“We print them onto plastic in more or less the same way we print our plastic banknotes,” she said.
“Connecting our solar panels is as simple as connecting a battery.”
The team is now looking to advance things even more by working on a solar spray coating.
With interest from varies enterprises, the commercialisation of printing lightweight solar panels isn’t far away.
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