New Solar Panel Technology Stylish and Sustainable
2008 02 01

From: enn.com

The new cell technology combines nanoparticles and organic dyes that can be produced in any number of colors and designs.

The key component of the new modules is an organic dye which in combination with nanoparticles converts sunlight into electricity. Due to the small size of the nanoparticles, the modules are semi-transparent. This aspect makes them well suited for fasade integration. The new solar cells are being developed by members of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, who will be presenting their new technology in Tokyo at Nanotech 2008, the world’s largest trade fair for nanotechnology.

The solar module prototype is amber in color. It is possible, however, to produce the modules in other colors, or even to print images or text on the module so that it serves as a decorative element. These design options open up an entirely new range of possible applications. Instead of mounting the solar module on the roof of a building, the electricity producer could be integrated into windows. Used in this way, the new technology not only prohibits direct sunlight from entering the building interior but also generates electricity at the same time.

“We don’t see the dye solar cell as being a rival to the conventional silicon cell,”ť says Fraunhofer ISE physicist Andreas Hinsch. The module prototypes only achieve an efficiency of four percent, which is not sufficient for rooftop applications in comparison to the performance of crystalline silicon solar cells. On the other hand, dye solar cells have a clear advantage when it comes to façade integration.

The wafer-thin electricity-generating film, which lies between two glass panes, is produced from nanoparticles and applied using screen printing technique. This technique makes it possible to integrate any desired image on the module. A glass facade made of this material can be given a decorative and promotionally effective design, such as a colorful company logo, and delivers electricity into the bargain.

The dye solar module is still a prototype. The Fraunhofer researchers have developed it together with industry partners in the ColorSol project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF.

One particular challenge posed by the new technology is that the narrow gap between the two glass panes must be hermetically sealed so that no air can get in and destroy the reactive substances inside. The Fraunhofer experts have come up with a special solution to this problem. Instead of using polymeric glue like their competitors, they have decided to work with glass frit. To this end, glass powder is screen-printed onto the panes, and fuses with them at a temperature of around 600 degrees Celcius.

Fatigue tests under various weather conditions have shown that the solar cells still function properly even after several thousand hours. The long-term stability as such, however, has yet to be officially certified.




Related Articles
Douglas Mulhall - Nanotechnology, Our Molecular Future
Worried about the environment? Solutions: The Air Car & Water Car
South African Solar Research Eclipses Rest of the World
Bring on the nanobots, and we will live long and prosper


Latest News from our Front Page

Norway Joins the Race to Develop Killer Robots
2014 10 24
Norway is a large exporter of weapons, which makes the resolution of the debate about creating killer robots an important issue for everyone.  One could debate the overall merits or failings of robotic systems, but an area that clearly has become a point for concern on all sides is the emergence of "killer robots." According to robotics pioneer, David Hanson, ...
Gene That Once Aided Survival in the Arctic Found to Have Negative Impact on Health Today
2014 10 23
In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a gene variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today’s northern populations. {snip} “Our work ...
The Ebola hoax: questions, answers, and the false belief in the “One It”
2014 10 23
“The Reality Manufacturing Company doesn’t just sell ‘fake paintings’ that are easy to spot. No. They also sell images that are geared to mesh with people’s deeply held instincts and thereby produce rigid false beliefs. People are sure that if they gave up such beliefs, their world would fall apart and blow away in the wind.” ...
New Controversial Theory Suggests "Hobbits" Were Not Human - Who Were These Mysterious Beings?
2014 10 23
The origin of the Hobbit species remains a challenging subject to scientists. The Hobbit’s discovery confirmed the view that the Earth was once populated by many species of human, but new research the Hobbit’s were not human at all! So, who were these mysterious beings? Where did they come from? The idea that our species, Homo sapiens, was the only species of human on ...
Right into enemy hands? ISIS shows off new weapons allegedly airdropped by US (VIDEO)
2014 10 23
Islamic State has published a new video in which a jihadist shows off brand-new American hardware, which was purportedly intended for the Kurds they are fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The undated video, posted by the unofficial IS mouthpiece “a3maq news”, sees a jihadist showing several boxes of munitions with English-language markings, with a parachute spread out on ...
More News »