MIT Demonstrates Solar Panels On Paper

Last year, news reports showed that MIT research had developed a solar panel that can be printed on paper. Recently, the journal Advanced Materials by Karen Gleason and colleagues provided the details about the technology.

The researchers of MIT had printed solar cells on the layer of PET plastic. They folded it 1,000 times and still find it viable to work effectively. Ordinary uncoated paper or plastic can also be utilized in the project. The paper photovoltaic arrays are made via an oxidative chemical vapor disposition process with less than 120 degrees Celsius in temperature.

The researchers of MIT claim that the overall procedure in making printed solar cells is cheap and easy, similar to inkjet printing. Multiple layers with a paper mask are utilized in printing the cells in a vacuum chamber. Once the solar cells are printed in the paper, it can give off less than 50 V. This is already enough to power up small devices in closed indoor lighting. The printed paper can be used indoors if it is laminated against the outdoors.

The team of MIT researchers demonstrated the printing technology in regular printer paper, tracing paper, news print and tissue. This demonstration of solar panels printed on paper and other cheap materials will paved the way for cheaper possibilities of generating energy or power in homes.

Still, this kind of technology is not yet open for commercialization. Nevertheless, the researchers will continue on experimenting with different materials.

-M. Germaine Parra
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