Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

‘Cling-film’ solar cells could lead to advance in renewable energy

Date:
July 8, 2011
Source:
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Summary:
A scientific advance in renewable energy which promises a revolution in the ease and cost of using solar cells, has just been announced. A new study shows that even when using very simple and inexpensive manufacturing methods - where flexible layers of material are deposited over large areas like cling-film - efficient solar cell structures can be made.

A polymer solar cell ready for testing.
Credit: Andrew Parnell

A scientific advance in renewable energy which promises a revolution in the ease and cost of using solar cells, has been announced. A new study shows that even when using very simple and inexpensive manufacturing methods -- where flexible layers of material are deposited over large areas like cling-film -- efficient solar cell structures can be made.

The study, published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials, paves the way for new solar cell manufacturing techniques and the promise of developments in renewable solar energy. Scientists from the Universities of Sheffield and Cambridge used the ISIS Neutron Source and Diamond Light Source at STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire to carry out the research.

Plastic (polymer) solar cells are much cheaper to produce than conventional silicon solar cells and have the potential to be produced in large quantities. The study showed that when complex mixtures of molecules in solution are spread onto a surface, like varnishing a table-top, the different molecules separate to the top and bottom of the layer in a way that maximises the efficiency of the resulting solar cell.

Dr Andrew Parnell of the University of Sheffield said, "Our results give important insights into how ultra-cheap solar energy panels for domestic and industrial use can be manufactured on a large scale. Rather than using complex and expensive fabrication methods to create a specific semiconductor nanostructure, high volume printing could be used to produce nano-scale (60 nano-meters) films of solar cells that are over a thousand times thinner than the width of a human hair. These films could then be used to make cost-effective, light and easily transportable plastic solar cell devices such as solar panels."

Dr. Robert Dalgliesh, one of the ISIS scientists involved in the work, said, "This work clearly illustrates the importance of the combined use of neutron and X-ray scattering sources such as ISIS and Diamond in solving modern challenges for society. Using neutron beams at ISIS and Diamond's bright X-rays, we were able to probe the internal structure and properties of the solar cell materials non-destructively. By studying the layers in the materials which convert sunlight into electricity, we are learning how different processing steps change the overall efficiency and affect the overall polymer solar cell performance. "

"Over the next fifty years society is going to need to supply the growing energy demands of the world's population without using fossil fuels, and the only renewable energy source that can do this is the Sun," said Professor Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield. " In a couple of hours enough energy from sunlight falls on the Earth to satisfy the energy needs of the Earth for a whole year, but we need to be able to harness this on a much bigger scale than we can do now. Cheap and efficient polymer solar cells that can cover huge areas could help move us into a new age of renewable energy."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul A. Staniec, Andrew J. Parnell, Alan D. F. Dunbar, Hunan Yi, Andrew J. Pearson, Tao Wang, Paul E. Hopkinson, Christy Kinane, Robert M. Dalgliesh, Athene M. Donald, Anthony J. Ryan, Ahmed Iraqi, Richard A. L. Jones, David G. Lidzey. The Nanoscale Morphology of a PCDTBT:PCBM Photovoltaic Blend. Advanced Energy Materials, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/aenm.201100144

Cite This Page:

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). "‘Cling-film’ solar cells could lead to advance in renewable energy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110704082656.htm>.
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). (2011, July 8). ‘Cling-film’ solar cells could lead to advance in renewable energy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110704082656.htm
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). "‘Cling-film’ solar cells could lead to advance in renewable energy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110704082656.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins