Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Revolutionary New Thin-Film Solar Cell Adhesive Peel-and-Stick Technology

Revolutionary New Thin-Film Solar Cell Adhesive Peel-and-Stick Technology, The publication Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of the British-based scientific journal Nature, announced that the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and their collaboration with Stanford University have developed peel-and-stick solar cell, or water-assisted transfer printing (WTP) technologies that shall revolutionize the way we charge mobile devices and power other small toys, apparatus, and even appliances. They may even replace battery power of the future.

Peel-and-stick technologies have previously been utilized for nanowire-based electronics. But now the Stanford-NREL collaboration has improved upon the technology by recently performing the world's first successful demonstration of universally adhesive thin-film solar cells, according to Qi Wang, NREL's principal scientist.

The collaboration between NREL and Stanford began in 2012, when Wang was giving a presentation on solar cells at a conference where Stanford's Xioalin Zheng was likewise sharing her peel-and-stick findings. Zheng then made the leap that Wang's solar cells could be produced on her peel-and-stick substrate. The result is now the team's thin-film solar cell, which functions similar to a bumper sticker-----capable of sticking onto any surface, removal from said surface, and then re-application to another surface!

The team's thin-film solar cells measure less than a micron-thick, and consist of amorphous silicon cells produced atop nickel-coated Si/SiO2 wafers. In the presence of water at room temperature, the thin-film solar cells can be removed. The device has a transparent protection layer to prevent contamination when dipped in water. And then, exposure of a few seconds to heat measuring roughly 90°C can reactivate the thin solar cells to once again be adhesive to almost any surface.

“We were able to peel it off nicely and test the cell both before and after. We found almost no degradation in performance due to the peel-off,” Wang said.

Another unique aspect of this thin solar cell device is its adhesive ability to a universal substrate. By contrast, most thin-film cells require a special type of substrate before they can be affixed to it.

The Stanford-NREL collaboration has been receiving praise for its breakthroughs. Indeed, this new peel-and-stick technology allows for flexible, lightweight applications that can even be integrated onto curved surfaces, like those found on transistors, military helmets, portable sensors, and other electronics.

Who knows? Maybe in the future, having a sticker collection can include the lucrative gathering of various types of adhesive solar cells to power things up. That will surely add more light to the smiles of avid sticker collectors everywhere.

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