October 6, 2008

Process prints flexible silicon solar cells

Make silicon solar cells small enough some 10 times narrower than the period at the end this sentence -- and you can literally print them onto surfaces, including curved and flexible surfaces.

A method for making tiny crystalline silicon solar cells and stamping sets of them onto various surfaces yields flexible, lightweight solar modules. The cells' 6 to 8 percent efficiency is about three times lower than traditional crystalline silicon solar cells and lower than the most efficient flexible solar cells, but about twice as high as flexible plastic solar cells.

The modules are semitransparent -- the transparency is determined by the spacing of the cells.

The room-temperature stamping technique could lead to inexpensive solar cells, in part by reducing the amount of silicon used in each solar module.

Research paper:
Ultrathin Silicon Solar Microcells for Semitransparent, Mechanically Flexible and Microconcentrator Module Designs
Nature Materials, published online October 5, 2008

Researchers' homepages:
John Rogers Research Group
Joseph B. Geddes
The Nuzzo Research Group
Colloidal Assembly Group
Placid M. Ferreira
Yonggang Huang
Rockett Research Group

Related stories and briefs:
Flexible silicon -- preliminary research
Process prints silicon on plastic -- preliminary research

Further info:
Q&A: UNSW's Martin Green -- a leading silicon solar cell researcher
Q&A: University of Delaware's Robert Birkmire -- a leading silicon solar cell researcher

Back to ERN October 6/13, 2008



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