Printing solar cells may soon be as easy and inexpensive as printing a newspaper, according to the researchers.
Solar energy is a huge source of clean, sustainable power, a fraction of the sun’s energy could power the world.
With global energy demands continuing to rise, a range of low-cost solar technologies will be crucial to meeting the energy needs of both the developed and developing world.
A team, led by Hairen Tan from University of Toronto Engineering found that the solar cells manufactured with perovskite mineral could lead to low-cost, printable solar panels capable of turning nearly any surface into a power generator.
Perovskite raw materials can be mixed into a liquid to form a kind of ‘solar ink’, they could be printed onto glass, plastic or other materials using a simple inkjet printing process.
Today, virtually all commercial solar cells are made from thin slices of crystalline silicon which must be processed to a very high purity. It is an energy-intensive process, requiring temperatures higher than 1,000 degrees Celsius and large amounts of hazardous solvents.
In contrast, perovskite solar cells depend on a layer of tiny crystals, each about 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, made of low-cost, light-sensitive materials. Since the perovskite raw materials can be mixed into a liquid to form a kind of ‘solar ink’, they could be printed onto glass, plastic or other materials using a simple inkjet printing process.
New developments in printed solar cells could allow solar energy to be cheaply and easily converted into electricity almost anywhere, including walls, windows, roller blinds, shade umbrellas and even tents.
The study was published in the journal Science.