What if everyday objects where constantly soaking up the power of the sun? This breakthrough from the folks at MIT could make that possible. Green Technology Daily reports:
Scientists at the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Research Center have successfully printed thin-film solar on paper. By coating white sheets of paper with organic semiconductors, the researchers are, in effect, able to turn an everyday object into a current-producing device.
MIT President Susan Hockfield and Paolo Scaroni, CEO of the Italian oil company Eni, officially dedicated the new research center last week. Vladimir Bulovic, the center’s director, took the opportunity to unveil the paper solar panel.
The process is said to be similar to an inkjet printer. Just as an inkjet deposits ink onto paper fairly quickly and cheaply, the MIT scientists are depositing carbon-based dyes, used as organic semiconductors, to absorb the sunlight and then convert it into solar electricity.
According to Bulovic, any material can be used as long as it is deposited onto the paper at room temperature.
The efficiency is not great at 1.5-2 percent, but the convenience of the cells could completely modify home solar, and possibly commercial in the future, depending up how the efficiency rate improves.
The MIT researchers say the paper solar panels are years away from hitting the market. When they do, the smaller panels will likely be much cheaper and more convenient than the conventional roof-mounted solar energy systems of today.
MIT professor Karen Gleason headed the research and has submitted a paper for scientific review but it has not yet been published. MIT and Eni said this is the first time a solar cell has been printed on paper.
During the press conference, Scaroni said that Eni is funding the center because the company understands that hydrocarbons will eventually run out and believes that solar can be a replacement. At the same time, he said, current technologies are not sufficient.
[Read more at Green Technology Daily]