Designer screen printed solar cells are possible now with the new technique developed by researches at Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE.
Instead of mounting the solar module on the roof, it could be integrated in the glass façade of a building. It is possible to produce it in desired colours, print images or text on the module.
These design options open up an entirely new range of possible applications. It can be used as shade, window or even as company’s logo while generating electricity.
The key component of the new module is an organic dye which in combination with nanoparticles converts sunlight into electricity.
The wafer-thin electricity-generating film, which lies between two glass panes, is produced from nanoparticles and applied using screen printing technique. Due to the small size of the nanoparticles, the modules are semi-transparent. This technique makes it possible to integrate any desired image on the module.
“We don’t see the dye solar cell as being a rival to the conventional silicon cell,” says Fraunhofer ISE physicist Andreas Hinsch.
In the new technology the narrow gap between the two glass panes are so sealed with glass frit instead of using polymeric glue that no air can get in and destroy the reactive substances inside. Glass powder is screen-printed onto the panes, and fuses with them at a temperature of around 600 degrees Celsius.
Tests under various weather conditions have shown that the solar cells still function properly even after several thousand hours.
The dye solar module is at present a prototype and amber in colour. The Fraunhofer researchers have developed it together with industry partners in the ColorSol project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF.
Image and info source: Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
(just the info for people like me: The solar cell is one small area on the surface of a solar module. The module is made up of many solar cells. A solar panel is several solar modules installed together.)