Researchers at MIT have produced the thinnest, lightest solar cells ever. The laboratory proof-of-concept has shown a new approach to make solar cells, which in future will power the portable electronic devices.
The researchers have affirmed that it will take years before it turns out to be a commercial product. Study researchers have affirmed that the key to the new approach to make the solar cell is the substrate that supports it and protective over-coating required to cover it from the environment.
The substrate does not require handling. It can be removed from the vacuum during fabrication. Study researcher Vladimir Bulovi said that one of the best outcomes of the result is that they will be able to grow the substrate at the same time as one grows the device.
In the experiment, the researchers have used a common flexible polymer called parylene for the substrate and the overcoating and DBP was used as the primary light-absorbing layer. The process is carried out in a vacuum chamber at room temperature without any solvents that are used in conventional solar-cell manufacturing.
The researchers have affirmed that different materials can be used for the substrate and covering layers. In addition, the team said that they have already been able to develop the thinnest and lightest complete solar cells ever made. In order to prove the same, they draped the cell on top of soap bubble.
The solar cell used in demonstration is efficient owing to its low weight; its power-to-weight ratio is among the highest ever achieved. “It could be so light that you don’t even know it’s there, on your shirt or on your notebook. These cells could simply be an add-on to existing structures”, affirmed Bulovi.
It will take time before the technique is developed in a manufacturing product. The development could open new applications for solar power in the long term.