Peel-and-stick solar panels
December 24, 2012
The thin-film solar cells can be applied to “paper, plastic, and window glass, helmets, cell phones, convex windows, portable electronic devices, curved roofs, clothing — virtually anything,” and without modifying any existing processes, facilities or materials, said Xiaolin Zheng, a Stanford assistant professor of mechanical engineering and senior author of a paper in the Dec. 20 issue of the open-access Scientific Reports.
The researchers believe the process can also be used with thin-film electronics, including printed circuits, ultra-thin transistors and LCDs.
“Obviously, a lot of new products — from ‘smart’ clothing to new aerospace systems — might be possible by combining both thin-film electronics and thin-film solar cells,” observes Zheng.
What’s more, he notes, the peel-and-stick qualities probably aren’t restricted to Ni/SiO2. “It’s likely many other material interfaces demonstrate similar qualities, and they may have certain advantages for specific applications. We have a lot left to investigate.”
It would be interesting to see if this process would work with MIT’s graphene-nanowire solar cells, for example. — Ed.