MIT Researchers Print a Solar Cell on Paper
We love the idea of clean and green fuel. But they come with certain disadvantages. First one is they are heavy on pocket of a commoner. Second disadvantage is their power conversion rate is quite low. Last one is you need storage space to save all the power converted by a clean and green technology. Now MIT researchers are coming out of solar cells printed on paper. Though the technology still has to wait for years before it can be converted into a commercially viable entity but it’s an interesting development.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have effectively coated paper with a solar cell. It is a part of a suite of research projects aimed at energy breakthroughs.
Susan Hockfield, MIT’s president, and Paolo Scaroni, CEO of Italian oil company Eni, formally dedicated the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Research Center. Eni financed the research project by investing $5 million into the center. This project is also financed by National Science Foundation. They are granting a fund of $2 million.
The MIT people took inspiration from the inkjet printer. They molded the solar paper panels on the similar lines. They used organic semi conductor material. The technique will be quite helpful in lowering the weight of solar panels. “If you could use a staple gun to install a solar panel, there could be a lot of value,” Vladimir Bulovic, director of the National Science Foundation, said.
MIT researchers utilized carbon-based dyes. The efficiency of paper based solar cells is not great, at around 1.5% to 2%. But Vladimir Bulovic says that one can use any material if it can be deposited at room temperature. He further says, “Absolutely, the trick was coming up with ways to use paper,” he said.
Prof. Karen Gleason is the head of the MIT research team. She has submitted a paper for scientific review but it has yet to be published. MIT and Eni have confirmed that this is the first time a solar cell has been printed on paper.
During the press conference, Paolo Scaroni said that Eni is funding the center because the company understands that hydrocarbons will eventually run out and believes that solar can be a replacement, although the currently available technology isn’t sufficient enough.
Paolo Scaroni said, “We are not very active (in alternative energy) today because we don’t believe today’s technologies are the answer of our problems.”