A ultra-thin, transparent, flexible solar cells

solar cell
John Rogers, professor of science and materials engineering at the University of Illinois and his team have created a new method to produce flexible solar cells, transparent and extremely thin.

"If you look at a conventional solar panel, it is relatively heavy, mechanically rigid, fragile - you can not fold it, it is opaque - you can not see through," says J. Rogers. "Our job was to remove those limitations."

The work has shown that the thickness of the photovoltaic cell has little effect on yield.

The challenge is primarily to find the right compromise between the thickness of the cell and an acceptable level of fracture toughness. Researchers have developed a machine capable of shaping of silicon solar cells 100 times thinner and design modules without damage. The process is similar to a printing process, which transfers the slices on plastic or lightweight fabric.

"The solar cells are extremely thin - about one tenth the thickness of a human hair - placed on a support structure that has the distinction not break easily" he says.

According to J. Rogers, tests have shown that ultra-thin cells are as effective as conventional cells, while using much less material. For him, no doubt, flexibility and transparency will open their doors to other solar applications.

"We can wrap, and put them in the back of a truck like a carpet, and then deploy them when you install them in their final position," says J. Rogers. "This kind of thing is very difficult to do when your solar cell technology is rigid, heavy and bulky."

"And by adjusting the density of cells on the module design, researchers may give different degrees of transparency or opacity. They could be used as a coating on the outside of a building, produce energy windows, or on the bonnet of cars, "says Rogers.

The company, Semprius obtained a license on this technology. The first commercial applications may emerge next year

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