Jorge Chapa

Print Solar Cells With an Inkjet Printer

by , 03/10/08

solar panels, printed solar cells, solar cell, solar power, inkjet solar panels, flexible solar panels, cheap solar panels

If you like the idea of solar power, but aren’t convinced by expensive, clunky solar panels just yet, here’s a more manageable option: print your own on an inkjet! Konarka Technologies has just debuted a printable solar panel film that uses a common inkjet printing process to manufacture paper-thin photovoltaic solar cells. Using the existing and very simple technologies of your office inkjet printer, Konarka has essentially replaced ink with the solar cell material, and paper with a thin flexible sheet of plastic.



HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:
Essentially, the head of an inkjet printer deposits a material (ink) into a substrate (paper), and does so in a fairly cheap and quick manner. Konarka’s technique uses the solar cell material as ink, and a thin flexible plastic as paper. According to the company, the process creates solar cells which are almost as good as the clunky silicon ones, created with much more advanced technologies. However, these inkjet babies are much much cheaper.

“Demonstrating the use of inkjet printing technology as a fabrication tool for highly efficient solar cells and sensors with small area requirements is a major milestone,” stated Rick Hess, president and CEO at Konarka.

Unfortunately we probably won’t be seeing the Inkjet-solar-panel option flying off the shelves of Office Depot just yet, as it is currently only feasible for large productions of solar cells. However, it does mean that if the uptake of this technology happens relatively quickly, you will be seeing solar cells of different sizes and price-points appearing everywhere soon.


+ Konarka Technologies

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15 Comments

  1. learn chinese fast September 18, 2010 at 8:22 am

    You have a really useful blog I have already been right here reading through for about an hour. I’m a novice and your post is useful personally.

  2. Khan 412 July 2, 2010 at 5:30 am

    its an amazing development in harnessing solar energy. further more no pollution, gases emission, and will keep the environment green. Can it also help us to reduce the current global warming in our planet.

  3. valerie March 1, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Thanks for the post, good information. Keep posting!

  4. sibia August 16, 2009 at 7:04 am

    I am interested in printing solar panels or have some other substitute so as to cut down the cost of electricity in our hospital so as to make the treatments more affordable. – any suggestioins please. – Dr.Sibia

  5. flyer September 20, 2008 at 11:05 am

    sounds great but where can i get the design and what materials do i need ????????

  6. paradigmshift April 17, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    If we figure in the real cost of oil to our society you realize that a lot of these alternative energy technologies are economical now. the real problem is the financing for these technologies is not readily available. If you could pay 200 dollars a month to buy a systems that you would own in ten years or so and know your energy bill would not ever go up more people buy these systems , its just the up front expense stop the average person.

  7. Inhabitat » Coast... April 2, 2008 at 11:25 am

    [...] that benefit from the unique profile of their immediate environment. Whether it be south-facing solar panels or strategically located wind turbines, maximum efficiency is achieved by making the best of a [...]

  8. Zero Energy and Green B... March 13, 2008 at 12:03 am

    [...] Think printing solar panels is cool? Well, here’s something even cooler. General Electric has just successfully demonstrated a roll-to-roll printing (think newspaper style printing) process for OLEDs. It’s a state-of-the-art process for the production of Organic Light Emitting Diodes that’s high performance, energy efficient, and surprisingly inexpensive. The applications are endless for printing energy efficient light systems of all sizes. Just imagine the design possibilities! [...]

  9. Inhabitat » OLEDs... March 12, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    [...] Think printing solar panels is cool? Well, here’s something even cooler. General Electric has just successfully demonstrated a roll-to-roll printing (think newspaper style printing) process for OLEDs. It’s a state-of-the-art process for the production of Organic Light Emitting Diodes that’s high performance, energy efficient, and surprisingly inexpensive. The applications are endless for printing energy efficient light systems of all sizes. Just imagine the design possibilities! [...]

  10. This is Tech » Bl... March 11, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    [...] Print Solar Cells With an Inkjet Printer: [...]

  11. Silver Surfer March 10, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Yes, both Nanosolar and Konarka are doing the same thing – NOT delivering commercial photovoltaics. Both firms are spending enormous amounts of VC money on long-shot technology and neither has delivered real volume product. Konarka especially is about releasing press releases and not delivering anything.

  12. oakling March 10, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    You might be able to make a small batch out of a large production, but I bet that it would be awfully expensive to make a large batch on a home printer, and that it would involve a lot of money for the materials, which only a large production could recoup by selling them – especially if by “large production” they meant “enough for many many many buildings”. Personally, I just hope to be able to get powerful cheap solar panels, of whatever size and kind, by the time I buy my own house! And this sounds like it’s getting us closer….

  13. Your Obedient Serpent March 10, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Isn’t Nanosolar doing essentially the same thing? I’ve seen a couple of articles about Konarka’s announcement last week, and none of them mention that Nanosolar announced something very similar within the last month or two.

  14. Hugo March 10, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Sounds great, but it isn’t as great as it sounds. First, inkjet technology is used, but in a multilayer technology. One needs different layers for negative and possitive conduction, so you can’t just buy a solar cell material cartridge for your officejet for your DIY power station. And a second issue is the lifecycle. Where normal PV panels can last for about 5000 houres of energyproduction, polymer-based solar panels can at present last for about 500 houres of energy production, holding back efficiency.

    And how can it be only feasable for large productions and thus not for home use. It only takes a pair of scissors to make a small batch out of a large production. ;-)

    Anyway, I’m very eager to see this technology up close and to use it!

  15. Zero Energy and Green B... March 10, 2008 at 6:12 am

    [...] (more…) [...]

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