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Printing Sunshine

Solar power is one of the most abundant forms of alternative energy to be found on the planet. With a very few exceptions, it doesn’t matter where you live, the sun still shines often enough to provide energy. The catch is finding ways to capture that energy.

The Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) has used a new printer to crank out large, flexible solar panels. The organic photovoltaic panels are about the size of a standard piece of paper and are created by printing semi-conducting inks onto thin sheets of plastic or steel.

CSIRO Printed Solar Cell

Dr. Scott Watkins holding a sheet of flexible solar cells. Courtesy of CSIRO.

“There are so many things we can do with cells this size,” said Dr. Scott Watkins, CSIRO materials scientist. “We can set them into advertising signage, powering lights and other interactive elements. We can even embed them into laptop cases to provide backup power for the machine inside.”

In addition to the above uses, VICOSC researchers believe laminated versions of the cells could be plastered on to the windows of skyscrapers to gather energy, or could be directly integrated into steel and plastic roofing materials. Each sheet generates between 10–50 watts of power per square meter, and could possibly even be used to enhance the efficiency of silicon photovoltaic cells.

“The different types of cells capture light from different parts of the solar spectrum. So rather than being competing technologies, they are actually very complementary,” added Dr. Watkins.

Below you’ll find a video about the printed solar cells.

Source: CSIRO

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