Flexible solar cells.
The Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC), CSIRO, and the University of Melbourne has developed a new printer that has allowed researchers at the university to print solar cells up to the size of an A3 sheet of paper. The solar cell printer makes renewable energy even easier to source.
The solar cell printer can transform plastic or metal into photovoltaic panels ranging from the size of a fingernail up to an A3 sheet of paper. CSIRO’s Dr. Scott Watkins foresees these cells being used on rooftops, glass surfaces, or even personal devices like laptops. In just three years, the researchers behind the printer have been able to increase the output size from just 2 centimeters to 30 centimeters wide.
The printer cost a whopping $200,000, although the University of Melbourne is accepting proposals for manufacturing orders – which will allow small companies to gain access to the device to print out projects (much like a screenprinting business).
The printer lays semiconducting inks onto plastic or steel at a rate of one cell every two seconds. Printed on flexible material, the solar cells are more versatile than silicon solar panels. The team will continue to work on making the printer more affordable so that they can make it available for purchase by other companies.