Solar Cells with Inkjet Printing

  • Scientists have devised a new generation of thin, lightweight and flexible solar cells using inkjet printing.
  • The cells are scalable and can capture energy from light, thereby offer an alternative way to power novel electronic devices.
  • Unlike the ultrathin organic solar cells manufactured so far — which were made by depositing uniform thin films onto flat substrates via a process called spin-coating — the new cells have been printed using inkjet printing.
  • The process is low-cost and involves the use of an inkjet printer to lay down the semiconductor material and electrodes onto a solar cell substrate.
  • The previous ultrathin solar cells used indium tin oxide (ITO) as an electrode. ITO is highly conductive but a brittle and inflexible material.
  • Using lightweight, ultrathin organic solar cells to harvest energy from light, whether indoors or outdoors was a more feasible option in the face of using bulky batteries.
  • The intermolecular forces within the cartridge and the ink need to be overcome to eject very fine droplets from the very small nozzle.
  • The power conversion efficiency (PCE) of the new solar cells was found to be 4.73 per cent, more than 4.1 per cent for a fully printed cell.