Boffins build substrate for 'peel and stick' solar cells
Technique suitable for LEDs and printed circuits
A team of scientists from Stanford University has developed a "peel and stick" solar cell to demonstrate a new flexible substrate with the potential to be used by the wider electronics industry.
Thin-film solar cells can be printed on an increasing variety of rigid surfaces but the team noted that it might be possible to remove the substrate that requires rigidity, in a paper published in Scientific Reports. Once removed from their base, the solar cells show very little loss of generating power and the flexible end-result can be stuck onto almost any surface, even the Microsoft one.
"Now you can put them on helmets, cell phones, convex windows, portable electronic devices, curved roofs, clothing – virtually anything," said Stanford assistant professor of mechanical engineering Xiaolin Zheng.
The substrate is uses a rigid silicon base, with a specially-constructed silicon dioxide topping, onto which is deposited a 300 nanometer-thick layer of nickel. Thin-film solar cells are then printed onto the unit using industry-standard fabrication equipment, the whole thing is covered with a transparent protection layer of plastic and then sealed up with a strip of thermally-bonded tape.
Peel and stick solar strip
Once ready for attachment the strip is dumped in water for a few seconds, allowing water to seep into the gaps between the nickel and the silicon substrate and help detach the two by encouraging cracking between them. The thermal tape is then peeled off and the flexible solar cell is stuck onto something using commercial double-sided adhesive tape.
The paper reports that the silicon substrate can be recovered and reused if necessary (El Reg would suggest printing a discount coupon on the back) to bring costs and the environmental impact down further. Solar cell efficiency wasn't noticeably harmed by the process and the team reports negligible loss of power after the units were bent up to 23mm more than 3,000 times.
Bendy cells hold up well
The thin-film solar cells aren't anywhere near as efficient as more rigid alternatives, but the new substrate could be adapted to carry other electronics and LED panels, Zheng explained. In addition the process could be applied to substrates using other types of materials to fit specific electronics manufacturing needs.
"A lot of new products - from 'smart' clothing to new aerospace systems - might be possible by combining both thin-film electronics and thin-film solar cells," she said.
"And for that matter, we may be just at the beginning of this technology. The peel-and-stick qualities we're researching probably aren't restricted to Ni/SiO2. It's likely many other material interfaces demonstrate similar qualities." ®
Re: I wish to place a bet...
I hear ya loud and clear Ian.
I'm just looking for a monocrystalline panel right now, mainly through amazon, ebay and google.
I'm IN the USA and all I can seem to find (cost +project fit in wise) are coming from China. No wonder they targeted Chinese panels with tariff.
Every panel manufacturer I go to has no prices. They want to install. Feels like the greenwash profiteers have invaded with their freaking ppt presentations and 2MB pdf files just to find NO GOD DAMN PRICES!
Or maybe we should head over to battery manufacturers. Another fucking black art.
And Dear Amazon.com why when I fuckin type in solar panel 140 watt do I get everything from light bulbs to 400, 500, 600, 1000 watt inverters?! SOLAR PANEL AMAZON, PANEL!! +panel -"inverter"
ebay - stocked from China, unanswered questions about ITC tariff. Forget it I ain't bidding on that!
Google Shopping - come on.. solar panel 140 watt (not bad, yet overpriced (shipping or price) selection) change search to 145 watt (results in Bronze Circulator Pumps - bzzzzt FAIL) 150 watt - and we're back down to the $150 10 watt spam crap again.
I swear I am supposed to be a tech, and I am finding it harder and harder to find the most simple fucking parts these days. No I don't want to spend $5 a pop on a radio shack brand friggin PL259/RG58 connector (searching ebay is only slightly more productive) why why why, when I only paid $10 dollars for the fucking CB!? Of course I can find some coming from Hong Kong for .99 cents if I want to wait three months.
Anyway Ian, your right, there will be a VAT tax or some similar crap to target it and fuck up the cost, making most people never try it.
I have been interested in renewable energy for a long time, I studies it at Birmingham Uni on a part time course while I was still at High School!!
In 2000 I finally got to buy my own home, and one of the first things I did was research the prices of the panels and associated equipment. I found I could buy a "kit" containing everything needed to produce all the hot water I wanted, even during the winter - for about £800 - plus shipping and UK tax (so ~ £1,100 in total).
I also contacted several of the very few companies in the UK who advertised such systems; none of them were interested in anything other than a full installation package, and the CHEAPEST package - which did about a 1/3rd of the US kit- was quoted as costing EIGHTEEN THOUSAND POUNDS!!!
Now I know prices are a lot lower now, but we are still being royally ripped off.
I wish to place a bet...
.... that by the time this technology is available for sale in the UK, the companies selling it will have "invented" some hyper expensive glue that has to be used anywhere outside of the USA (or some similar excuse for selling it in the UK at 10 times the US price).