Last fall, we reported that Oxford Photovoltaics, part of Oxford University’s Isis Innovation, received a grant to create screen-printed organic solar cells. The thin-dye printed cells have finally been revealed. The design team, lead by Dr. Henry Snaith of the Oxford physics department manufactured the cells using cheap, abundant non-toxic, non-corrosive materials, including a metal oxide found in toothpaste.
By using plentiful, non-toxic materials, the new solar cells, a type of thin film technology, have a much smaller carbon footprint than those currently on the market. Leading technologies use materials that come from rare minerals, while others are held back because of the volatile nature of the liquid electrolytes used in them. Oxford PV’s cells use an organic semi-conductor in place of the electrolytes. The organic material can be printed onto glass or other materials and you don’t have to worry about extensive sealing and encapsulation like when using toxic materials. Oxford PV’s cells only need to be sealed to protect from the elements. On top of that, the manufacturing of the cells will cost 50 percent less than the cheapest thin-film technology currently out there.
The cells come in a range of colors, with green (fittingly) being the most transparent and efficient at producing energy, but red and purple also work well. The colorful new technology could revolutionize the way solar power materials are incorporated into buildings. Instead of solar panels on the roof, you could create beautiful stained-glass windows and achieve the same energy-saving results.
Snaith believes the cells will be a front runner in their field due to their inexpensive production costs and [flexible] nature. The team will continue to experiment with the cells, working to create the most efficient product possible.
Via Green Optimistic
Images © Oxford PV