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Printable Solar Panels One Step Closer to Market


Image credit: CSIRO. Materials scientist Dr. Scott Watkins holds a sheet of flexible solar cells.

Seven years ago, a group of Australian materials scientists from CSIRO, Monash University and the University of Melbourne started with development of a technique, which could print solar cells onto plastic surfaces. At present, this team is now in the position of commercializing it in the way that the protective covers would be capable of charging your gadgets with renewable energy available nearly everywhere.

According to Dr. Fiona Scholes, the senior research scientist from CSIRO, the covers, laptop bags, skins of iPhone were not only for casing electronics but also for collecting some energy as well to give power such electronics.

From the time when the team began with this project in 2007, the technology has been experiencing leaps and bounds. The first solar cells it created were just the size of a coin. With much improvement, the scientists have made it possible to increase the size in a steady way. For the time being, by using the modified commercial printers with kind of a special solar ink, they are capable of producing A3-sized sheets of flexible solar cells similar to printing plastic banknotes.

As Scholes said, such solar cells were quite cheap, but their appearance and operation was very different compared with those of normal silicon rooftop solar.

Generally speaking, by application of this technology, any kind of plastic surface would be turned into a solar panel, which could be ideal for powering up houses and even skyscrapers. And more important, it is easy to connect these solar panels just like hooking up a battery.

Before this technology is really put into actual usage, the scientists have to enhance the efficiency of the solar cells. However, a lot of potential investors have shown their interests in it already and would like to offer their help to the group for the final realization. And Scholes and his team are confident that it is not far when the technology will be used in our daily life.

Source:  ABC News