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.