Are spray-on solar cells the next big thing for sustainable energy?
The two spray heads of the machinery used to spray-paint perovskite solar cells. (Photo from Alex Barrows)
Published Tuesday, August 5, 2014 2:43PM EDT
Generating solar power can be expensive and impractical for the average person, but a new spray-painting method that applies solar cells to almost any surface could be the next big thing in green energy.
Scientists at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. have developed perovskite solar cells using a spray-painting process, which could turn a variety objects into energy generators.
While most solar cells are manufactured using energy-intensive materials like silicon, perovskites requires much less energy to make.
Similar to applying paint to cars and graphic printing, the method involves spray-painting layers of the material onto a surface, meaning little material is wasted and the concept can be easily adapted to more affordable high-scale manufacturing.
By replacing the key light-absorbing layer found in organic solar cells with a spray-painted perovskite, energy efficiency is vastly increased.
"The best certified efficiencies from organic solar cells are around 10 per cent," explains lead researcher Professor David Lidzey.
"Perovskite cells now have efficiencies of up to 19 per cent. This is not so far behind that of silicon at 25 per cent -- the material that dominates the world-wide solar market."