Low-cost Solar Cells Can Now be Printed
From Pune Mirror
Work by a team of chemical engineers at Penn State and Rice University may lead to a new class of inexpensive organic photovoltaic cells. “Imagine if you could make solar cells as easily as you can print posters or newspapers – you could make sheets of this,” said Enrique Gomez, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Penn State.
“It represents a fundamental shift in the way in which we make solar cells.” Most solar cells today are inorganic and made of crystalline silicon. The problem with these, Gomez explained, is that inorganic solar cells tend to be expensive, rigid and relatively inefficient when it comes to converting sunlight into electricity.
But organic solar cells offer an intriguing alternative that’s flexible and potentially less expensive. Not many organic solar cells currently exist. He said, “There are a bunch of prototypes floating around. You see them in places like in solarpowered laptop bags and on the top of some bus depots.”
The problem is that the bulk of organic solar cells employ fullerene acceptors – a carbon-based molecule that’s extremely difficult to scale up for mass production. Gomez’s approach skips the fullerene acceptor altogether and seeks to combine molecules in a solution.
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