Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Printed solar cells on paper

15.09.2011
The Institute for Print and Media Technology at Chemnitz University of Technology presents solar panels, which are printed with special inks with electrical properties on standard paper

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 pmhuebler@mb.tu-chemnitz.de.

Katharina Thehos | Technische Universität Chemnitz
Further information:
http://www.pppv.de
http://www.tu-chemnitz.de

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Laser sensor LAH-G1 - optical distance sensors with measurement value display
15.08.2017 | WayCon Positionsmesstechnik GmbH

nachricht Engineers find better way to detect nanoparticles
14.08.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nagoya physicists resolve long-standing mystery of structure-less transition

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Chronic stress induces fatal organ dysfunctions via a new neural circuit

21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Scientists from the MSU studied new liquid-crystalline photochrom

21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>