Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power Technology

Inkjet Printing Solar Cells 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-to-the-printer dept.
cylonlover writes "Traditional solar cell production techniques are usually time consuming and require expensive vacuum systems or toxic chemicals. Depositing chemical compounds such as CIGS on a substrate using vapor phase deposition also wastes most of the expensive material in the process. For the first time, engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) have now developed a process to create 'CIGS' solar cells with inkjet printing technology that allows for precise patterning to reduce raw material waste by 90 percent and significantly lower the cost of producing solar cells with promising, yet expensive compounds."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Inkjet Printing Solar Cells

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    overpriced HP Solar Ink Technology is next!
  • Uhh (Score:5, Informative)

    by sortius_nod (1080919) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @06:50PM (#36617444) Homepage

    Not true that it's the "first time". There's already photovoltaic paint that can be printed or painted on:

    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/newinventors/txt/s3008638.htm [abc.net.au]

    • Sorry to reply to myself, but in addition, the "solar paint" mentioned in my link is nothing new, the invention was being able to make the paint water based.

      • FTFA, "with a power conversion efficiency of about five percent. While this isn't yet high enough to create a commercially viable solar cell, the researchers say they expect to be able to achieve an efficiency of about 12 percent"

        My electric bill says I used 850kwh last month. My finger math sucks, so I'm wondering how big would a solar panel would have to be at 5% efficiency? It may sound goofy now, but next month is coming up fast. These ARE hard times, and So.Cal.Edison has no problem pulling the plug
    • by c0lo (1497653)
      And not alone: Nanosolar [nanosolar.com] is doing something similar.
    • by rbrausse (1319883)

      this is as new as the revolutionary conducting pen ink [slashdot.org]. Probably "first time" and "developed recently" are differently defined at gizmag...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I bet the expensive compounds are still cheaper than inkjet refill cartridges.

  • This has been done before.. [technologyreview.com]
    All we need now is one printer that can print solar cells, Batteries [slashdot.org] and TFT panels. [nsti.org]

    self-powered, printable televisions, anyone?

  • Wake Me Up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Normal Dan (1053064) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @06:59PM (#36617518)
    When they hit the market
    • Re:Wake Me Up (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pnot (96038) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @08:39PM (#36618180)

      ... and then when they hit the market, the Slashdot discussion will consist of 50 comments along the lines of "This isn't news, this is old tech, I remember reading about this back in 2011"...

      Seriously, if you *only* want to hear about innovations once they've hit the market, why are you reading a tech news site? Just browse the Amazon electronics department instead and you'll be safe.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Seriously, if you *only* want to hear about innovations once they've hit the market, why are you reading a tech news site?

        What I'd like to to *only* hear about innovations that are likely to pan out and hit the market, rather than "innovations" that NEVER hit the market and are just vaporware. Examples: Moller Skycar, and just about everything printed in Popular Mechanics. There's a LOT of companies out there who come up with "innovations", make a few nice pictures of their invention (but never a real wor

        • by pnot (96038)

          What I'd like to to *only* hear about innovations that are likely to pan out and hit the market

          Yes. Also, when reading the racing news, I would like to *only* read about the horses that are going to come in first.

          There's a LOT of companies out there who come up with "innovations", make a few nice pictures of their invention (but never a real working prototype), and make a lot of hype so they can get investor money, and then just disappear.

          Doubtless. But in this case the development was by a university, not a company, and the story is precisely about the fact that they've built a working prototype.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            Doubtless. But in this case the development was by a university, not a company, and the story is precisely about the fact that they've built a working prototype.

            Yes, that's great. I'm not criticizing this, I'm criticizing all the other BS from companies that don't make working prototypes and make up a bunch of BS to fool investors.

  • by mkiwi (585287) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @06:59PM (#36617520)

    FYI, most economical solar panels are produced with screen printing. A liquid (metalloid) paste is pushed through a screen onto a wafer of doped Si and baked in an oven to solidify the paste. A great article on screen printing for solar cells can be found here:

    http://www.appliedmaterials.com/sites/default/files/Screen_Printing_Backgrounder_0.pdf [appliedmaterials.com]

    These researchers will have to come up with much better than 5% efficiency if they want to compete with mass market solar panels. In other words, this is a great PhD dissertation, but lots of work needs to be done to refine the procedure in order to be competitive in the marketplace.

  • "...and significantly lower the cost of producing solar cells with promising, yet expensive compounds." And yet somehow I imagine that traditional printer ink is still more expensive.
  • The point of TFA (Score:4, Informative)

    by steveha (103154) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @08:04PM (#36617958) Homepage

    There are several upvoted posts that have nothing to do with the actual article. Since I read TFA I can summarize the important points for you.

    They have developed a way to use inkjet technology to "print" a solar cell that works. The chief advantage of this system is that there is much much less wastage compared to other means of producing a solar cell. Instead of using silicon, they are working with more exotic materials, with the potential to make better/cheaper solar cells than silicon ones.

    At the moment their first prototypes are 5% efficient. TFA discusses the point that this is nowhere near good enough to start selling these solar panels yet; luckily enough the people working on this already know this fact, no need to point it out here on Slashdot. They say that with additional research they hope to bring it to 12%, but TFA didn't say why they mentioned that 12% number. (Enough for commercial success? Easily achievable? The maximum they think they can get with current "ink" formula? Who knows?)

    My favorite quote:

    "Some of the materials we want to work with for the most advanced solar cells, such as indium, are relatively expensive," Chang said. "If that's what you're using you can't really afford to waste it, and the inkjet approach almost eliminates the waste."

    The engineers are also studying other compounds that could be used with the inkjet technology that could cost even less. If they are able to reduce costs enough, the researchers say it also offers the prospect of creating solar cells that could be built directly into roofing materials.

    I like the roofing materials idea, because in many places the peak electrical demand is to run air conditioning on hot sunny days. In those places, solar roofing tiles would be a win/win and should pay for themselves quickly.

    steveha

    • They have developed a way to use inkjet technology to "print" a particular kind of solar cell that works.

      TCTFY

      I did some work for a company that was injketting solar cells in 2005, but with a different material.

  • I honestly don't understand one thing about solar cells. When will they work?
    I swear, I've read between 2-3 stories per month for the last 5 years on how someone has revolutionized the process of producing solar cells, at a fraction of the cost it was last week...
    By this point, I should be able to pick up a 2 by 4 ft. panel from the side of the street by the peaches stands.

    • by phaggood (690955)
      I know; I know, or at least unfold that empty Cheerios box with the solar panel printed on the inside and put it on your roof. Like PopSci, ./ is quite the repository of 'in just 5 yrs'-tech, but at least it has an active comments section where people can post add'l info that lets you read something besides the publicity fluff that the former prints w/o any additional scrutiny.
    • by pnot (96038)

      I swear, I've read between 2-3 stories per month for the last 5 years on how someone has revolutionized the process of producing solar cells, at a fraction of the cost it was last week... By this point, I should be able to pick up a 2 by 4 ft. panel from the side of the street by the peaches stands.

      Take a look at this graph [scientificamerican.com], from this article [scientificamerican.com] about solar price trends. From 1980 to 2009, the cost of photovoltaics decreased by about 85%, from $22/W to below $3/W. As of approximately now, solar is cheaper than nuclear [theenergycollective.com] per kWh, and the price decline shows no sign of stopping.

      Maybe you should quantify your expectations, then you can check them against future price decreases.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As of approximately now, solar is cheaper than nuclear [theenergycollective.com] per kWh,

        That study compares the "cost" of solar after subsidy. See the foot of p17:
        "A 30% Federal tax credit and a 35% North Carolina tax credit were applied to the capital cost to reach a net cost per kWh."

        So solar is not cheaper than nuclear in real terms.

        (NCWarn, who produced the report, is an anti-nuclear campaigning organisation.)

      • by dylan_- (1661)

        Take a look at this graph [scientificamerican.com], from this article [scientificamerican.com] about solar price trends.

        That graph is misleading, as it looks like the pace of improvement is actually slowing (which is what confused the AC who replied to you). It would be better plotted as Watts per Dollar, which shows the trend clearly. Here's that same data presented that way. [photobucket.com]

  • Has HP sude them yet?

"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never." -- Winston Churchill

Working...