Chalcopyrite deposit via Oregon State University


Sometimes many people around the world have the same idea simultaneous. Then a resounding, "that was my idea," is heard as someone actually attempts to act on the thought.


Has this ever occurred to you? Printing a solar panel.


Oregon State University can make solar panels with inkjet printing techniques. Not only that, but the new panels reduce material waste by 90%. The low cost, thin film solar electronics have a power conversion rate at 5% currently, and 12% may be achievable soon. 12% puts it on par with the average thin film solar panels used today, and on the lower end of traditional silicon. "This is very promising and could be an important new technology to add to the solar energy field," said professor of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering Chih-hung Chang.


"Until now no one had been able to create working CIGS solar devices with inkjet technology," Chang continued. The new "CIGS" based solar panel consists of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium, also known as chalcopyrite. The solar efficiency at two microns is equivalent to 50-micron silicon. The research team created an ink that could print the chalcopyrite layers on a substrate with the inkjet technique. “Some of the materials we want to work with for the most advanced solar cells, such as indium, are relatively expensive,” Chang said. “If that’s what you’re using you can’t really afford to waste it, and the inkjet approach almost eliminates the waste.”


The work was funded by the "Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy and OSU’s University Venture Development Fund, which helps donors receive tax benefits while sponsoring projects that will bring new technology, jobs and economic growth to Oregon."


Looks like Dyesol and Tata Steel better ramp up their printed solar efforts.