Ariel Schwartz

MIT Unveils First Solar Cells Printed on Paper

by , 05/05/10

solar cell, paper solar cell, solar, inkjet printer, green technology, mitPhoto by Martin LaMonica at CNET

What if you could simply staple solar panels to your house rather than hiring a professional installation team? That’s not as far-fetched as it sounds — MIT researchers have figured out a way to print thin film solar cells on paper using a process that resembles a standard inkjet printer. If they’re able to gear efficiencies up to scale, the development could revolutionize the production and installation of solar panels.

MIT’s new semiconductor-coated paper features carbon-based dyes that give the cells an efficiency of 1.5 to 2 percent. That’s not incredibly efficient, but the convenience factor makes up for it. And in the future, researchers hope that the same process used in the paper solar cells could be used to print cells on metal foil or even plastic.

Of course, paper solar cells are a long way from commercialization. MIT researchers say that the technology is still in the research phase and it could take years before being commercialized. And once it is? There’s no telling how it could revolutionize the home solar industry, which currently relies on pricey professional installers to set up panels.

+ MIT

Via CNET

Photo credit: Martin LaMonica at CNET

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8 Comments

  1. roiikkata April 29, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    hahaha “staple them you your house”, thats great ..

  2. Boeing Planning Large S... November 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    [...] is a market leader when it comes to the production of solar cells and photovoltaic technology, and has been producing such elements for various space and terrestrial applications for 50 years. [...]

  3. Incredible Buildings Ma... November 19, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    [...] as if bookkeeping dictated architecture, or vise versa. Now all these buildings need are some paper solar panels and they’re [...]

  4. bhaddon May 10, 2010 at 9:12 am

    The key here is organic based semi-conductors, which you could hopefully source from natural materials. This is very good, as then you might actually be able to meet some portion of the residential energy demand. A very similar technology has been under development and garnered major investment capital, but relied on rare metal alloys such as Copper indium gallium (di)selenide, too rare to scale up.

  5. danni May 10, 2010 at 4:49 am

    hey! how about printing these on plastic, and using that for making the extensive greenhouses already used in arid areas like Israel or Southeastern Spain? that’s a huge area to co-opt for energy generation. That energy could in turn be used for de-salination, avoiding the dirty coal plants currently used

  6. davidwayneosedach May 7, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    That’s exciting technology! Some day every house in the US will have solar cells.

  7. Calvin K May 6, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Sanud002 not to rain on your parade but 1.5 to 2% efficiency is very very low. Even if it’s very easy to install, you will run out of physical space just to make enough power!
    One way I think it can be installed is to adopt the tree form… imagine each “leaf” is one of this printed solar paper!

  8. sanud002 May 6, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Amazing technology! We will have to see how it plays out in the future. Obviously the product would have tremendous practical upsides like being able to install it with a staple gun. The solar power problem has always been efficiency and practicality and this product looks like it could take care of both. Actually I just saw a video the other day about a new, similar breakthrough in solar power. Military scientists apparently created a solar cell that is not only cheap and flexible but 10,000 times more efficient that our standard cell today! I’ll post a link to the video if yo would like to check it out. I am all for solar power and I can’t wait till it becomes 100% viable for every american houshold.

    http://www.ndep.us/its-a-Small-World

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