Creating new solar cells
Solar panels are currently made of silicon—which is efficient, but expensive to manufacture and produce. You’d need to run silicon solar panels for 1-2 years to make back the energy cost of production.
Our researchers are working on another solution: plastic solar cells that can be easily printed, using only 1-2 weeks of energy. While they’ve shown that plastic solar cells can be printed, the science is far from commercially viable. They still need to increase the efficiency, lifespan and protection from the elements (e.g. rain, wind).
Plastic solar cells aren’t a replacement for silicon. Even when we learn how to achieve optimum efficiency, our researchers predict that plastic solar cells won’t generate the same energy as silicon. But in addition to being cheaper, they’re also flexible, thin and can be printed in colours. Plastic solar cells could be used in facades, bent and twisted into exciting designs and printed in red, blue, green… Architects will love it.
Organic electronics research is popular in the Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology, with teams led by Professors David Lewis, Gunther Andersson and Mats Andersson working together, and separately, to meet global energy challenges.