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Peel-and-stick solar cells can generate power on any surface

Personal devices could soon generate their own power with the use of peel-and-stick solar cells developed by Stanford University and the United States Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

A collaboration between the two institutions has resulted into a thin-film solar cell less than one-micron thick that can be attached to almost any surface.

Stanford had previously developed the peel-and stick or water-assisted transfer printing technology for nanowire based electronics. The Stanford-NREL partnership applied the technology to thin-film cells.

NREL has developed amorphous silicon thin-film solar cells that are mounted on nickel-coated Si/SiO2 wafers. These are attached to a silicon substrate with a thermal release tape then dipped in water. The result is a thin strip much like a bumper sticker.

When exposed to heat for about 90 degrees Celsius for a few seconds, the cells can be peeled off and applied directly to a surface.

Most thin-film cells must be affixed to a special substrate, but the peel-and-stick approach gets around this and allows the use of flexible polymer substrates and high processing temperatures. The resulting solar cells are lightweight, flexible and transparent.

These solar cells can then be easily adhered to the surface of buildings or portable devices to provide a ready source of clean power.

NREL principal scientist Qi Wang and Stanford’s Xiaolin Zheng were the lead researchers in the collaboration. They are going to continue to test peel-and-stick cells in able to offer more power. – Ecoseed Staff

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