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Category: Tech

MIT’s Cheap Solar Cells

Written on October 19, 2010 by Japhet Writ

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Next time, rather than closing the blinds on a sunny day, you'll just pull down the solar panel. MIT just got a solar cell coming you way that is as thin as a paper. It's so thin, you can use it as window blinds!

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology presented a research project yesterday. An Italian oil company, named , funded the project that aims to create a cheap . revealed a prototype of paper solar cells that can generate enough current to light a small LED display. The trick behind the paper-thin solar cells is a layer-by-layer manufacturing process. Developed by a chemical engineer professor, , and her team, five layers of solid material are deposited in a paper substrate. It is like a frost forming on a window, wherein water vapor turns solid on a surface. Thus this process can be done even at low temperatures.

“We have an apparatus which allows us to bring together molecular and atomic species. They basically condense, sometimes they react. We repeat that five times and you’re up with a .”

The process uses organic materials and polymers, which are readily available in the nature. However, the current efficiency of light-to-electricity conversion is just close to one percent. Still, the results look promising. And when everything goes great, a commercial paper solar device will hit the market in five years.

“It’d be a matter of economics and investment on the time frame for large-scale commercialization. If everything went great, I think five years is not unreasonable.”

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