Blog: Mother Earth Heals
by Liora Leah

Printable Solar Panels!

Australian solar power scientists are one step closer to making available a cheaper and faster way to print solar cells onto plastic.

Date:   10/16/2014 4:00:46 AM   ( 7 y ) ... viewed 911 times

Printable solar panels, developed by CSIRO and Melbourne universities, one step closer to market
By Emily Stewart

Updated 9 Sep 2014

Photo: CSIRO materials scientist Dr Scott Watkins holds a sheet of flexible solar cells. (Supplied: CSIRO)

Australian solar power scientists are one step closer to making available a cheaper and faster way to print solar cells onto plastic.

CSIRO's senior research scientist Dr Fiona Scholes said the technology was almost at the commercialisation stage and could be used to power laptops to rooftops.

"iPad covers, laptop bags, skins of iPhone - not just for casing electronics but to collect some energy as well and power those electronics," Dr Scholes said.

The Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium behind the project comprises scientists from the CSIRO and the Melbourne and Monash universities who have been working on printing solar cells since 2007.

The team quickly 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 working on a solar spray coating.

Several companies have expressed interest to take it to the next level of commercialisation.

"We would like to improve the efficiency of solar panels - we need to develop solar inks to generate more energy from sunlight," Dr Scholes said.

"We are confident we can push the technology further in the years to come," she said.

Video: Printable solar panels a step closer to market

Related Story: Researchers develop paint-on solar cells

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