Melbourne researchers have successfully created Australia's largest and most flexible solar cells, with the aid of a new printer located at CSIRO. The scientists are part of a collaboration between research and industry partners called the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium VICOSC. This was achieved through the collaboration between The University of Melbourne and the Bio21 Institute, CSIRO, Monash University and industry partners including Bluescope Steel and security printing firm Innovia Security. In just three years the consortium has gone from making cells the size of a fingernail, to cells 10 centimetres square.
They are now able to print organic photovoltaic cells the size of an A3 sheet of paper. The consortium is now leading the world in the ability to print solar cells and using different printing technologies, but this is the beginning of the story. We're still developing the technologies, still developing the materials to enable us to print in a number of different ways for different applications. The new printer can roll out 10 metres of solar cells per minute, which is equivalent to producing one cell every two seconds. Using semiconducting inks, the researchers print the cells.
Straight onto paperthin flexible plastic or steel. So what we're looking at is, how can we use this technology in the short term, how can we print solar cells to enable advertising, can we put solar cells on to advertising material in shopping centres to drive an active display. So if somebody wants to advertise something with nice flashing lights then at the moment they drive that with batteries. In the longer term we see these materials being able to be coated on to buildings, into windows and on roofs to provide.
Power in a wide variety of locations and circumstances. As part of the consortium, graduate students working alongside scientists are involved in training and development programs to improve the technology in the long term. We're now right up there with the rest of the people in the world but we've also got a facility which is different. We now have a process through our collaboration where we take things from the very very beginning, from designing materials, from making devices in the lab scale right through the large scale printing, which is very very unusual in the world context.
The Future of Solar Energy is TINY Technology!
The future is huge for tiny technology. Miniaturization is, perhaps ironically, a huge deal. I mean, without it we wouldn't have had the personal computer revolution and we wouldn't have this world we live in now, where we have smartphones and tablets and other devices just as powerful as a computer, that can fit in the palm of your hand. But even these gadgets are gargantuan compared to nanotechnology! See, a nanometer is just one billionth of a meter. And that's kind of hard to imagine, so let me put it to you this way.
Your typical sheet of paper is about one hundred thousand nanometers thick. And at this scale, individual elements are so small you can't even see them with a light microscope. Now as we learn more about how materials behave on the nanoscale, we have more potential applications to use that knowledge practically. I'm talking about how nanotech could help solar panel technology. And fortunately, at a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, they had a panel on just this very subject. Now if you know anything about solar panels you know they have some drawbacks. For example,.
Efficiency they max out at around twenty percent in the field under ideal conditions. They're also rigid, so you can't just put them anywhere you like. And they tend to be expensive because manufacturing them is complicated. But scientists hope that nanotechnology can help address all three of these challenges. Now with efficiency they're looking to nature specifically, moth eyes. You see, moths have these little tiny structures in their eyes that help reflect light back into the eye and it does two things it lets them see better in the dark, and it cuts down.
On reflection so predators can't spot them as easily. With solar panels it could actually make them more efficient by reflecting more of the sun's light into the panel so you lose less in reflection. And when we're talking about flexibility, well nanomaterials are really, really small, and there is the potential to create solar panels that are just a few sheets of molecules thick. They could be as flexible as a sheet of paper, and with that kind of flexibility you could put those pretty much anywhere you wanted to.
And as for price, well, that's the big one. And in the short term I don't think it's going to turn around. But scientists are cautiously optimistic that nanotechnology will let us use new processes, like printing solar panels directly onto a substrate using just a specialized printer. That would actually be less complicated and expensive than traditional manufacturing methods. Now at that meeting of the AAAS, a Dr. Wolfgang Porod gave a talk about Nanoantenna Thermocouples for Energy Harvesting. Which I admit sounds like technobabble straight out of a Star Trek episode.
But it's actually fairly simple once you break it down. A nanoantenna is just an antenna on the nanoscale. These resonate with longwave infrared radiation. And a thermocouple Well that's a component of circuitry that generates a voltage when one part of the thermocouple is a different temperature than other part. So you pair these two together and the antenna generates heat and the thermocouple generates voltage. It could actually help increase the efficiency of solar panels. Now like I said, nanotechnology is a young science and it has lots of different applications.
Across many disciplines. And I'm really excited how such a small technology could have such a huge impact. That leads me to this week's question. When I say the word nanotechnology what do you imagine What does that word mean to you Let us know in the comments below. Then, do me a nanosized favor and share this tutorial with your friends. If you enjoyed it make sure you hit the 'like' button and subscribe to our channel. Then check out these tutorials over here. There's some huge surprises in them.
Sticky tape the key to ultrathin solar cells
We are working on a new semiconductor, it's called black phosphorus or phosphorene. Ultra thin, ultra light and also with wavelength tunability which can offer us to fabricate lots of interesting devices such as LED and solar cells. We used the similar away that was used to fabricate graphene to fabricate phosphorene. We use the scotch tape to thin down the material from the box state to a few layers and finally to monolayer. We successfully identify the monolayer bilayer and triplelayers up to a few layers and then we precisely determined the.
Transparent Solar Cells that could power Mobile phones and Skyscrapers
Although the sun has by far the largest potential of any energy resource available to civilization, our ability to harness that power is limited. Photovoltaic panels mounted on rooftops are at best 20 percent efficient at turning sunlight to electricity. Research has boosted solar panel efficiency over time. But some scientists argue that to truly take advantage of the sun's power, we also need to expand the amount of real estate that can be outfitted with solar, by making cells that are nearly or entirely seethrough, ie transparent cells. A Silicon Valley startup named Ubiquitous Energy has succedded in creating such transparent.
Solar cells. Organic chemistry is the secret to creating such material. Manufacturing cost of organic solar is less comparing to the conventional silicon solar panels. ClearView Power Technology of the Ubiquitous energy is a transparent solar cell that can coat any surface, including displays and windows, to harvest ambient light and generate electricity. Clean, clear Ubiquitous Energy. Ubiquitous engineers are building organic photovoltaic structures 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. Ubiquitous Energy has redesigned the solar cell to selectively transmit light visible to the human eye while absorbing only the ultraviolet and infrared light and converting.
It into electricity. This makes ClearView Power technology the first truly transparent solar technology, allowing any surface to convert ambient light into useful electricity without impacting the way it looks. Two thirds of the light available for energy harvesting is in the ultraviolet and the infrared, leading to practical efficiencies over 10 while maintaining up to 90 visible transparency. Ubiquitous plans to prove its technology first on a small scale. The company's pilot production facility in Redwood City, California, is currently working with mobile device manufacturers to design prototype smartphones, watches, and other small electronics powered by Ubiquitous.
Which Solar Panels to Use
Namaste Solar primarily installs from three manufacturers SunPower, Sharp and Kyocera. Your Sunpower panel and your Sanyo are you two high efficiency high end panels, so must power per square foot but also the most cost per watt as well. Those panels are very popular when you have very limited roof space and you want to maximize how much power you get on your roof. Sunpower also has the nice added benefit of an all black ascetic that you don't get with any other panels and that is really popular with homeowners.
Then your Sharp and Kyocera panels are your low efficiency but lower cost panels so those can really make sense when you have a lot of roof space in order to fit the solar system. So which one has the most bank for the buck Sharp or the Kyocera They are actually quite comparable, Sharp has their own racking system now, which is called SRS aestecally is nice because black frame system which sits low to the roof but sometimes you do not get the flexiblity with that system because of the low profile and.
Because it is a frame you need to have some margin of roof space around the system to work so you end up losing a little bit of real estate with that system that you can't go over attic vents and those kinds of things. Where as with a panel like Kyocera can be used with standard 3rd party mounting systems such as Unirack or ProSolar and those tend to be pretty flexible and can often clear some roof obstructions and go right to the ridge of the roof or gutter of the roof.
Polymer Solar Cells
Music narrator The sun provides a clean renewable source of energy. But electricity is expensive to produce using solar cells compared to nuclear energy or power from fossil fuels. Research at the University of NebraskaLincoln focuses on a solution. Huang The goal of this project is to make a more efficient and cheaper solar cells. UNL engineer Jinsong Huang earned a National Science Foundation Career Award to advance his research into solar energy devices. Huang wants to replace the silicon material used in today's solar cells with polymers or plastics. narrator Huang and his colleagues have designed a new structure that includes a thin layer of ferro electric.
Polymer, a material often used in insulation. Combined with organic polymers and electrodes, the device would generate more electricity at a lower cost. When this labsized device is perfected, it could be produced on a large scale. narrator If Huang can improve the efficiency of the polymer solar cell, the new device could replace the large solar panes atop buildings. And because polymers are flexible, future solar cells could also be pasted on a window or incorporated in fabric to provide a charge for your laptop or warmth on a camping trip.
Printing Australias largest solar cells
Dr Scott Watkins We're really pleased to commission what is now Australia's largest facility for printing thin film solar cells. This equipment that has been purchased over the last few months and commissioned in our labs here in Melbourne will enable us to print A3 size solar cells. We've rapidly scaled up making our devices from fingernail size in the lab to A3 size devices that are fully printed now. And at this size we're definitely up there with the best in the world. In the short term we're looking for applications in consumer devices.
Are Solar Panels Going To 300 Watts Soon
Right now solar panels are around the 200 watt range. Are they ever Going To 300 Watts is a question I asked John Shaw project engineer of Bella Energy. Absolutely, any manufacturer can do that right now. You shouldn't really look at how many watts a panel has rather how many watts per square foot can be attained. Behind you is a Sanyo 200, if you increase the foot print of that panel by 50 it is a 300 watt panel. The reality is what you need to be looking at to measure the level of progress of the.
Technology is how many watts per square foot. Instead of thinking will there ever be a 300 watt panel surely there will be even next year. To get at the point of your question is do you ever think we will be ever to achieve a 300 watt panel in 15 square feet And yes, I do. Right now standard efficiency panels are in the ballpark of about 12 watts per square foot, it ranges from 10 to 13. Standard efficiency panels Evergreens, Sharps, Kyocera, Shot , Suntech etc. Keep in mind this is the residential affordable panels, NASA works with panels that are about.
30 watts per square foot but you are talking a million bucks a panel. Then there are high efficiency panels of the ones we know of are SunPower and Sanyo. And Sunpower and Sanyo are approximately 15 watts per square foot. Both are very good products. Sanyo I believe has a little bit of an edge because they has an amorphous or thin film rap around the silicon cell which allows them to maintain high production in high heat. One more reason and I will tie this in. The Sanyo's are shipped with a minus 0 and a plus 5 percent so when you buy a 200 watt.
Sanyo panel you will get hypothetically in standard test conditions 75 degrees at sea level you will get 200 watts or up to 210 watts. All other panels including specifically Sunpower are or 5, so you could buy a 210 watt Sunpower cell and it could actually perform at 199 watts where you could buy a 200 watt Sanyo cell it could perform at 210 watts, but no less than 200 watts. So that and the fact the Sanyo's will out perform Sunpower apples to apples same azimuth and pitch in high heat because of this amorphous or thin film rap 10 in high heat peak days.
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