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Earth Power Technology

MIT Researchers Printing Solar Cells On Fold-able Sheets 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the bright-ideas dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Following up on earlier work in the field, researchers at MIT are developing a process to print solar cells directly onto many common forms of paper. 'The technique represents a major departure from the systems used until now to create most solar cells, which require exposing the substrates to potentially damaging conditions, either in the form of liquids or high temperatures. The new printing process uses vapors, not liquids, and temperatures less than 120 degrees Celsius. These "gentle" conditions make it possible to use ordinary untreated paper, cloth or plastic as the substrate on which the solar cells can be printed. ... The resilient solar cells still function even when folded up into a paper airplane.'"
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MIT Researchers Printing Solar Cells On Fold-able Sheets

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  • Yes please (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Now mass-produce that shit and stick it on all skyward surfaces already, how fucking hard is it?

    I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore! [youtube.com]

  • by jojoba_oil (1071932) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:00PM (#36749584)
    the dirty tricks that the printer manufacturers play now are bad. What will happen when your printer's solar cell cartridge runs low?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dude, it's even worse. The paper itself will e-mail the Secret Service when you print up a load of $20's.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Very low efficiency, currently at 1% un-optimised, but potentially as cheep as crisp packets , tough and very very light... Might be good for providing night lighting or power to low wattage diagnostic equipment for places like refugee camps especially if you can get the efficiency up, remember light bulbs are surprisingly less bright than the sun so, with LEDs this should work even at its current efficiency.

    • by cruff (171569)

      Yes, if you watch the video of the solar cell airplane, they are only getting 1/2 A out of it when placed directly under an incandescent lamp. Granted, it isn't stated what the active area of the airplane cell is, or how that compares to what would be available from a higher efficiency cell in the same conditions. However, you won't be powering your shark mounted laser with it anytime soon!

      • by cruff (171569)

        The correct value is 1/2 micro-A, the edit box ate the mu character I pasted in.

  • I've been reading about "printed" solar cells
    for 10 years I think. Will they be in production
    by 2099 ? What is the cost to produce NOW?
    ( per KW per surface area )
    More important, what patents does MIT have and
    will they release the patents to the public if the research
    was done at public expense --- or more probably
    paid for by other subsidized research?

  • Solarigami (Score:4, Funny)

    by CyberDong (137370) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:13PM (#36749812)

    The company that commercializes this tech will quickly fold.

  • but I approve of this message [technovelgy.com].

    Photovoltaic paint FTW! If only it weren't operating on the same deployment timeline as flying cars and strong AI.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A Solar Powered Paper Airplane!

    The resilient solar cells still function even when folded up into a paper airplane.

    Tape a pager-motor with a small propeller onto it and you've got a paper airplane that can circumnavigate the globe !

    How cool would that be?

    -S

    • A Solar Powered Paper Airplane!

      The resilient solar cells still function even when folded up into a paper airplane.

      Tape a pager-motor with a small propeller onto it and you've got a paper airplane that can circumnavigate the globe !

      How cool would that be?

      -S

      Only if it can move fast enough to stay in the sun....

  • Every week some genius solves the energy crisis. Call me when one is actually put into use.
    • But ... I like hearing about solar vaporware every other week :-(

    • They are being put into use. Consider this recent article [bloomberg.com]:

      The cost of solar cells, the main component in standard panels, has fallen 21 percent so far this year...

      Think about that. A 21 percent drop in price so far this year??? New technologies are bringing down the cost of solar at a really incredible rate. That's not some futuristic, maybe it'll be available some day technology. It's what's on the market right now.,

  • The resilient solar cells still function even when folded up into a paper airplane

    Cool. So fold me an airplane and I'll attach an electric motor. It should have no problem flying. Right?

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Read down to the admission that it has pathetic output efficiency. They can measure the current on lab equipment. Unlikely they can do much of anything practical with it. An 8x10 sheet would be about as much juice as the solar cells in a solar calculator. If that.

  • VAPOR (Score:1, Interesting)

    by trum4n (982031)
    WARE. Prove me wrong by mass production at the amazing cost i've heard about for years, or just burn in hell.
  • After reading the article it doesn't sound like this technology is far off as the process sounds similar to things that are already done on an industrial scale. Yes it requires a vacuum chamber, but the ability to deposit the various materials is the same process that is done to deposit the shiny lining on the inside of plastic bags. Also it uses masks to lay the materials down in the correct locations which to me sounds similar to what is done in the semiconductor industry with photo-lithography. Also it d
    • by HiThere (15173)

      I think the efficiency is currently too low for any practical application. Not sure about the cost, but...

      OTOH, this *IS* a research project. There's probably lots of ways to improve it, and maybe they'll get around to looking at them. But maybe they'll head off in a different direction, and leave development to someone else. This is normal.

      FWIW, *I* am more interested in solar shingles. At low cost and reasonable efficiency...but with long durability. This is also being worked on, though by a differe

  • imagine if you had a solar cell printer on thingiverse!

  • and where will the print them when the office/world goes paperless?

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre

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