Inkjet-Printed Wearable Solar Cells

This thin solar cell can be printed without some of the usual rare elements, and is efficient enough that it could power wearable electronics.

The new solar cell design is fully printable, with different specialty inks used to produce each layer. The electrodes are made of a transparent conductive polymer called PEDOT:PSS, with a layer of an organic photovoltaic material in the middle. On the outside is a layer of parylene, a waterproof coating that helps seal the electronics against the weather.

“We formulated functional inks for each the layer of the solar cell architecture,” says Daniel Corzo, an author of the study. “Inkjet printing is a science on its own,” he says. “The intermolecular forces within the cartridge and the ink need to be overcome to eject very fine droplets from the very small nozzle. Solvents also play an important role once the ink is deposited because the drying behavior affects the film quality.”

In tests on glass plates, the team found that the new printed solar cells achieved a power conversion efficiency of 4.73 percent. That’s not very high in the wider world of solar cells, but the team says it beats the previous record for a fully-printed cell of 4.1 percent. It also outperforms other types of ultrathin solar cells. When printed onto a flexible substrate, that efficiency went down to 3.6 percent.

Science fiction authors have been liking those wearable electronics for a long time:

Della's first present was an imipolex sweatshirt called a heartshirt…The heartshirt was an even dark blue, except for a few staticky red spots drifting about.

"It can feel your heartbeat … look..."
(Read more about Rudy Rucker's cool heartshirt from Wetware [1988])

Via NewAtlas.

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