Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Toward textile-based solar cells

From the SPIE:
A fiber-based organic photovoltaic may form the building block of cost- effective, energy-harvesting textiles.

A 100km2 area covered with 10% efficient solar cells can produce enough electricity to satisfy the national requirement.1 Unfortunately, the total area of cells produced and installed to date is 1,000 times smaller than needed. Despite the high annual growth rate of the photovoltaic (PV) industry, current manufacturing methods face a scalability barrier that makes fulfilling demand unlikely in the next 20 years. Manufacturing of organic pigment-based solar cells could be expanded, because the dyes are made at the commodity scale. In addition, device-quality organic thin films can be deposited onto virtually any kind of substrate at room temperature2 without the need to make crystalline bonds between the two.3 Unfortunately, the relatively low efficiency—about 5%—of organic solar cells, the need for expensive ingredients like indium tin oxide (ITO), and the substantial installation costs prevent widespread deployment.

Figure 1. The large yellow square represents an area of land that would need to be covered with 10% efficient solar cells to satisfy the national energy demand. In comparison, the arrow points to a small red square whose relative area represents the worldwide area of solar cells currently manufactured and installed. The area of the fabrics image represents the total square meters of textiles imported to the United States. The bottom right image shows the fiber-based organic solar cell, photographed near a penny for size comparison.

To address these challenges, we developed an ITO-free, fiber-based organic cell that could become the building block in rapid, cost-effective manufacturing of energy-harvesting textiles....MORE

HT: Meme Box's Future Scanner