Stanford develops thin film solar panels that stick to phones and windows

Stanford University

Researchers at Stanford University have developed the first ever peel-and-stick solar cell. These flexible solar stickers come as a thin-film that adhere to plastic, glass, paper, or just about anything surface you want.

The Stanford scientists developed a new photovoltaic material process that does not require any direct fabrication on the final carrier substrate. In other words, the solar cells don’t need to built on heavy, fixed panels that limit the number of applications.

To make a peel-and-stick solar film, the scientists first apply a 300-nanometer film of nickel onto a silicon dioxide wafer. On top of that, the scientists also introduce a thin-film of solar cells and wrap the entire photovoltaic sandwich (mmm...) inside a protective polymer before sticking it to a thermal-release tape.

Before you apply the solar sticker, you need to remove layers of the solar sticker by submerging it into container filled with room-temperature water. The polymer is designed to allow water to seep in, which releases the solar cell from the wafer. After that, you need to remove the thermal tape from the remaining photovoltaics by heating both layers to 90 degrees Celsius (about 194 degrees Fahrenheit) for several seconds. At this point, you can apply the solar panel to any surface you want with an adhesive like duct tape or glue.

The scientists discovered that their peel-and-stick solar panels have the same 7.5-percent energy-producing efficiency as a thin film solar cell manufactured on a conventional glass-substrate. The researchers also believe that their peel-and-stick process could be expanded to other thin-film electronics including printed circuits, ultra thin transistors and LCDs.

[Stanford University via Extreme Tech]

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