These days, everyone talks about the use of solar energy for the generation of electricity. Conventional solar cells, however, use expensive materials and are manufactured under costly clean room conditions. Consequently, they can only deliver expensive electricity. Researchers at Chemnitz University of Technology have now presented solar panels that are printed on paper.
A 15x15 cm solar module consists of multiple strips (in this case four) of photovoltaic cells. These printed photovoltaic modules are combined via snap fasteners and form a series connection. At the two ends of the serial connection, a connector cable is attached. The front of the module consists of the active layer composition. On the back paper, the substrate is directly visible. Photo: pmTUC/Bystrik Trnovec
The technology known as 3PV (3PV stands for printed paper photovoltaics) uses conventional printing methods and standard substrates, like those used for magazines, posters or packaging. Special inks with electrical properties form the necessary structures on paper, which ensure that electricity is generated when being exposed to light. Since the employed conventional printing methods, i.e. gravure, flexo and offset printing, are very cost-efficient, the printed solar panels shall generate much cheaper electricity in comparison to conventional solar cells.
Prof. Dr. Arved Hübler from the Institute for Print and Media Technology at Chemnitz University of Technology, who is working together with his research team on the 3PV technology for more than three years now, speaks of a paradigm shift in solar technology. His vision for the future is that common printing houses around the world could produce and market 3PV solar panels.
Now the Chemnitz-based researchers have published their results in the journal Advanced Energy Materials. Hübler and his team Tino Zillger, Bystrik Trnovec Mozzam Ali and Nora Wetzold, who have been supported by colleagues from the University of Würzburg with regard to the characterisation of the cells, report that the cells printed in Chemnitz achieve an energy conversion efficiency of 1.3 percent. The researchers use a new material approach. In a special printing process, naturally oxidised zinc is applied as base electrode. The transparent counter electrode is printed with PEDOT, a conductive polymer. "The materials are constantly optimised and we are confident that the 3PV parameters can be further improved," says Tino Zillger, researcher at the Institute for Print and Media Technology and leader of the project. Even the team of Hübler is a bit surprised that it is already possible to produce very stable 3PV modules with a web printing press in the laboratory of the Institute for Print and Media Technology. "Our long experience in the field of printed electronics pays well here," says the head of the chair Print Media Technology.
Hübler assumes that all in all paper solar cells could have the edge over the current technological state of the art due to the efficient production and lower material costs. The aim of further research is to increase the efficiency to more than five percent in order to ensure that a 3PV module is economically attractive despite a life time of less than one year. "In nature we find a model for this strategy: even green leaves only have a moderate energy conversion efficiency of four to seven percent and a life time of less than one year. Nevertheless, this approach is obviously successful," explains Hübler.
The vision of being able to contribute to the overall energy supply with the help of paper solar panels is only one field of application. Researchers at Chemnitz University of Technology have already shown that it is also possible to drive small electrical devices with these paper solar cells. This opens up the possibility to supply mobile devices with “paper power” in a simple and self-sustaining way. Intelligent packaging, for instance, could include many additional features, ranging from displays to sensors. Handling of the paper solar cells can be very simple. Tino Zillger shows a possible solution with 3PV modules manufactured at the Institute for Print and Media Technology: The paper strips can be connected with the help of commercial snap fasteners. Immediately, an electrical current flows. After use, the paper modules can be recycled like any other waste paper. According to Hübler it is, thus, not only possible to generate renewable energy, but also the solar cell itself is made from renewable resources and is consequently renewable.
The publication is available online: Arved Hübler, Bystrik Trnovec, Tino Zillger, Mozzam Ali, Nora Wetzold, Markus Mingebach, Alexander Wagenpfahl, Carsten Deibel, Vladimir Dyakonov: Printed paper photovoltaic cells; Adv. Energy Mat. in print, pre-published at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aenm.201100394/abstract
More information can be found at http://www.pppv.de and is provided by Prof. Dr. Arved Hübler, phone 0371 531-32364, Email email@example.com.
Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics
23.03.2017 | North Carolina State University
TU Graz researchers show that enzyme function inhibits battery ageing
21.03.2017 | Technische Universität Graz
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy