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 Fraunhofer ISE Supports Market Development of Solar Thermal Power Plants in the MENA Region
21.02.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

nachricht New tech for commercial Lithium-ion batteries finds they can be charged 5 times fast
20.02.2018 | University of Warwick

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: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>