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got an inkjet printer? print solar cells

People are coming up with creative ways to lower the cost of solar cells through manufacturing efficiencies. Traditional crystalline based solar panels have an intensive manufacturing process which requires silicon to be grown and it quite a complex process which increases the cost per watt. Recently National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has been investing in solar inkjet and sprayer systems, equipment which allows a manufacturer to print photovoltaic material right onto a substrate thus greatly reducing the cost and time it takes to produce solar cells. By inkjet technology I mean similar to inkjet printers, solar photovoltaic material can be deposited onto a substrate with minimal material usage and waste through use of a digitally controlled process. I’ve read some articles in the past about a university student that basically modified a standard inkjet printer to print very low efficiency solar cells that actually produced a small electrical charge! Obviously we are far away from being able to print solar cells in our own homes, but the concept can be revolutionary especially in the developing word. We could one day take an inkjet printer into an Afican village and print solar cells right at the point of use and change the lives of the billions of people who have no access to clean...

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what if solar cells took the shape of a leaf?

Have you ever heard of the term biomimicry? The greek word “Bios” means life and “‘mimesis” means to imitate. biomimicry is the study of natures designs and mimicking nature to solve human challenges. The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Mitsubishi and Tokki of Japan has taken a hold of the concept of biomimicry to develop a very interesting solar cell that looks like a leaf! Unlike traditional solar cells which are crystalline based, the organic thin-film solar cell is composed of a flexible plastic substrate. The three companies that allied towards the development of the solar leaf prototype managed to improve the durability of the solar cell by sealing it between a very thin layer of plastic. I like how people in this industry are starting to think outside the box when it comes to deploying solar power. With thin-film technology the possibilities of adding solar cells into the mix become endless. Although we are far from seeing a solar tree that can produce all the power you need, since the efficiencies have not reached optimal levels in which leaf shaped solar panels can produce serious power. What do you think about biomimicry? As we move forward will we see a fusion of solar cells harnessing nature’s...

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3D solar photovoltaic cells

The problem with solar cells on the market today is that they are only 2D, meaning they produce the most power when they have direct sun exposure. Although scientists at Georgia Institute of Technology have developed 3D solar cells that have a surface that looks like tiny pyramids that have the ability to capture more diffused light than traditional 2D solar cells. Not only do the 3D solar cells capture more diffused light and turn it into electricity but they are more resilient to dust build up since when water hits the solar panel it beads off the 3D structure and takes the dust with it, you can call them self cleaning solar panels. According to the simulations conducted by Georgia Institute of Technology, they claim the 3D solar cell surface can increase solar cell efficiency by up to 2%. I think solar cells will need to become 3D to maximize energy harvest, I wonder how long this technology will take to develop before we see 3D solar panels on the market. What do you think about 3D solar cells, do you think they will make a big difference in performance gains over traditional 2D solar...

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the ability to print solar cells

Solterra Renewable Energy Technologies is on a mission to lower the cost of solar cells by introducing thin film quantum dot solar cells, which supposedly can cut the production costs of solar cells in half. Quantum Dot PV Solar Cells is an advanced manufacturing process which not only lowers cost, but increases solar cell efficiency by allowing the solar cell to capture a broader spectrum of light. The manufacturing process of quantum dot PV solar cells is similar to low-cost screen printing or the way inkjet printers work. The ability to print solar cells onto inexpensive substrates is the key to Solterra’s patented manufacturing process, which is the key reason they are able to print the cost per watt down significantly. Don’t get excited yet, this company is far from developing product for the mass public and has no efficiency data to backup the expected results of their product line. Although it will be an interesting solar technology to follow since printable solar cells can change solar power products overnight. What do you think about the ability to print solar cells onto virtually any substrate? What will quantum dot solar cells do to solar technology and most importantly the...

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Spherical Photovoltaic Solar Cell

Solar cells on the market today are just plain flat, although on the other hand when sunlight hits the earth’s surface it’s diffused into the environment which is why traditional flat solar cells cannot take much advantage of indirect light. Kyosemi Corporation a Japanese solar cell developer is creating a “spherical” solar cell that will be more efficient collecting light at all angles due to its unique round shape. The sun travels across the sky in many different positions based on the season and the time of day therefore it’s critical that solar cells can absorb as much light as possible. Round cells give a solar panel the ability to catch reflected light and diffused light thus making the solar panels much more efficient. According to Kyosemi, the spherical solar cells also involve lower costs to produce then typical solar cells due to a simpler manufacturing process. The company claims the holy grail for the solar industry, a more efficient solar cell at a lower cost. The spherical solar can bring new possibilities to solar power as we know it, wouldn’t you agree? It’s about time that someone got creative with the shape of a solar cell, because flat is just plain boring and rudimentary, what do you...

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