8 October 2014

Advanced Materials publication for the SPECIFIC PV team

The flexible, transparent PV laminate that has been developed

A team of Swansea University researchers have developed a new design for printed solar cells which will make them cheap, safe and simple to use, taking inspiration from a material normally found at your local DIY store.

The researchers, based at the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre in Baglan, Port Talbot, have replaced a conductive layer of gold that is expensive and difficult to apply with a nickel grid that is stuck down using a new material based on common tile adhesive. The newly developed adhesive is both conductive and transparent, which means that the solar cells can be applied to glass as well as metal.

Dan Bryant, who came up with the idea, said: “What makes this new design especially exciting is that we’ve done it using materials that are inexpensive, safe and easy to use. In doing so we’ve overcome a major barrier to manufacturing these cells in the kind of quantity that would make a big difference to the UK energy system. With our new design we have achieved an efficiency of nearly 16% in the lab, which is comparable to conventional and commercial solar technologies.”

Widely hailed as the next big thing in solar technology, third generation perovskite solar cells are flexible and lightweight, which means that they can be applied to roofs and walls or printed onto building materials during manufacture. They work well in low light conditions, such as we have in the UK. In the UK there are 4 billion square metres of roofs that could take this type of printed solar cell technology; they would provide twice the UK’s current electricity requirements.

Dr Trystan Watson, who leads the research group at SPECIFIC, said “Printed solar cells are beginning to reach maturity. After years of work we are thrilled to be producing such high efficiencies in the lab. SPECIFIC is unique in having its own pilot manufacturing facility, thanks to £6 million investment from the Welsh GovernmentEPSRC and Innovate UK, so our next challenge is to scale up this technology to the point of market readiness.”

Their research, which was undertaken in partnership with Professor Henry Snaith and his team at Oxford University and Epigem, who make the nickel mesh, has been published in Advanced Materials.

To read more about the research, please follow the link.

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