Paper-Thin Solar Cells Could Reach Market in 5 Years
MIT develops paper-thin solar cells that can be installed as window shades
Researchers at MIT continue to tackle the issues of how to produce cheap renewable energy and this week announced their early results regarding the development of paper-thin solar cells that can conceivably be installed as window shades. These paper-thin solar cells have the ability to generate enough energy to light a small LED display and could be designed to collect energy on sunny days that can then be used to run signs or security lights at night.
MIT Chemical Engineering Professor Karen Gleason explained that the trick to paper-thin solar cells involves adjusting the different components layer-by-layer on ordinary tracing paper. By combining five separate layers, she has determined how to create a low temperature circuit generated by the same natural condensation mechanism that mimics how frost forms on a window.
"We have an apparatus which allows up to bring together molecules and atomic species. They basically condense, sometimes they react. We repeat that five times, and you end up with a solar cell," she said.
Other similar technologies include spray on solar cells, in research by the University of Texas, and Innovalight's silicon ink technology which could easily be integrated into the paper-thin solar cell concept.
MIT research is being sponsored by Eni Oil who has shown a strong commitment to energy efficiency and conservation of resources. With this funding assistance, the MIT researchers believe they can produce paper-thin solar cells for market within five years.