Advancements in renewable energy from 'cling-film'
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has reported what promises to be “a revolution in the ease and cost of using solar cells.” Based on research conducted from scientists from the Universities of Sheffield and Cambridge using the ISIS Neutron Source and Diamond Light Source at STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, the new study reveals that efficient solar cell structures can be made even when using very simple and inexpensive manufacturing methods - where flexible layers of material are deposited over large areas like cling-film.
The study, which was published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials, paves the way for new solar cell manufacturing techniques and the promise of developments in renewable solar energy.
Plastic (polymer) solar cells are less expensive to produce than conventional silicon solar cells and have the potential to be produced in large quantities. The study showed that when complex mixtures of molecules in solution are spread onto a surface, like varnishing a table-top, the different molecules separate to the top and bottom of the layer in a way that maximizes the efficiency of the resulting solar cell.