CTRL+P: Printing Australia’s largest solar cells

(L-R) Dr David Jones, Professor Andrew Holmes and Dr Scott Watkins.

(L-R) Dr David Jones, Professor Andrew Holmes and Dr Scott Watkins.

Scientists have produced the largest flexible, plastic solar cells in Australia – 10 times the size of what they were previously able to – thanks to a new solar cell printer that has been installed at CSIRO.

The printer has allowed researchers from the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium to print organic photovoltaic cells the size of an A3 sheet of paper.

According to materials scientist Dr Scott Watkins, printing cells on such a large scale opens up a huge range of possibilities for pilot applications.

“There are so many things we can do with cells this size,” he says. “We can set them into advertising signage, powering lights and other interactive elements. We can even embed them into laptop cases to provide backup power for the machine inside.”

Using semiconducting inks, the researchers print the cells straight onto paper-thin flexible plastic or steel. With the ability to print at speeds of up to ten metres per minute, this means they can produce one cell every two seconds.

As the researchers continue to scale up their equipment, the possibilities will become even greater for this technology. Eventually they hope to see solar cells being laminated to the windows that line skyscrapers and embedded onto roofing materials.

Read more in the media release.

12 Comments on “CTRL+P: Printing Australia’s largest solar cells”

  1. Howard Gray says:

    Let’s hope scientific ingenuity outpaces political stagnation – it’s the only hope we have as a species – any nearly every other species!

  2. Howard Gray says:

    ‘any’ should read ‘and’

  3. Colin Craig says:

    We would be very interested to follow further developments with regards to installation of this technology to window and spandrel glazing.

    • Peter Dennis Ward says:

      Seems ideal for the horticultural / nursety industries and demostic hot houses where you could run low enegy lighting anf cooling /exhust fans and circulating of hydroponoc fluids at no running cost. Peter Ward Merriwa NSW

  4. Tim says:

    What a fantastic piece of flexi-tech!! Where can I get hold of some? I’d be more than willing to attach them to my 4×4 and continue testing the product if that’s viable…

  5. Wil Gardner says:

    What’s the energy efficiency and what’s the currrent $/Watt?

    • Hi Will. We’re currently making devices that are 10-50W/m2 on a large scale and towards 90W/m2 on a very small scale. We’re only making devices in research (small) quantities at the moment so our costs are not representative of what you’d face if doing them on a commercial scale. Other groups have modeled prices and have shown that $1/W will be possible.

  6. Arie Cornet says:

    Are those solars cells available for commercial sales ?

  7. Greg B says:

    These would be useful for all kinds of outdoor activities….camping etc…

  8. John English says:

    I can see this technology having a place in undeveloped countries where many communities are not on the electricity grid.
    Imagine panels cheaply applied to roofing materials connected to batteries, so that enough energy could be produced during daylight hours to provide power and light at night.
    Keep up the good work. You are on a winner with this one.

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