Thursday, March 06, 2008

Solar cell printing

Offset printing methods have been adapted for printing electricity-generating solar cells for some time, drawing significant media attention and venture capital. "Based on the Economics of Printing" is the headline, in fact, at the home page of industry leader Nanosolar.

And this week news comes that another industry player, Konarka Technologies, and also with major venture backing, announced inkjet printing of solar cells. The recently published paper, in Advanced Materials, is entitled, "High Photovoltaic Performance of Inkjet Printed Polymer:Fullerene Blends" and is authored by Dr. Stelios A. Choulis, Claudia N. Hoth, Dr. Pavel Schilinsky and Dr. Christoph J. Brabec, all of Konarka.

While visionaries and optimists may picture the impending availability of "print at home" kits for cranking out your own solar cells from your trusty Deskjet, it's safe to say it's going to be awhile for that to happen. But this quote from Konarka's press release gives a glimpse into another side of inkjet that those of us in the printer industry might not be aware of.
Inkjet printing is a commonly used technique for controlled deposition of solutions of functional materials in specific locations on a substrate and can provide easy and fast deposition of polymer films over a large area. The demonstration confirms that organic solar cells can be processed with printing technologies with little or no loss compared to “clean room” semiconductor technologies such as spin coating. The most popular printing tool for organic electronics, inkjet printing could become a smart tool to manufacturer solar cells with multiple colors and patterns for lower power requirement products, like indoor or sensor applications. Inkjet printing is considered very promising because the polymer devices can be fabricated very easily because of the compatibility with various substrates and it does not require additional patterning.
-- Konarka press release, March 4, 2008

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I dreamed of a robotic ink-jet while on my knees carefully spreading stinky varnish over my precious redwood floors :-)