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Saturday, 2 July 2011

Printable nanotech solar cells developed

University of Melbourne
July 1, 2011

Printable, flexible solar cells that could dramatically decrease the cost of renewable energy have been developed by University of Melbourne PhD student Brandon MacDonald in collaboration with his colleagues from University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute and the CSIRO’s Future Manufacturing Flagship.

Their patented technology is based on inks containing tiny, semiconducting nanocrystals, which can be printed directly onto a variety of surfaces.

By choosing the right combination of ink and surface it is possible to make efficient solar cells using very little material or energy. The solar cells can be used much like current solar panels to provide power to things like lighting on bus shelters.

“The problem with traditional solar cells,” Brandon says, “is that making them requires many complex and energy intensive steps.”

“Using nanocrystal inks, they can be manufactured in a continuous manner, which increases production rate and should make the cells much cheaper to produce.”

Nanocrystals, also known as quantum dots, are semiconducting particles with a diameter of a few millionths of a millimetre. Because of their extremely small size they can remain suspended in a solution.
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