Australian 3D printed solar cells getting closer to commercial reality

The CSIRO has said that printable solar cells are near to being commercialised, with several firms interested in bringing the technology to market.

The CSIRO is part of a group of researchers – also including those from Monash University and the University of Melbourne – and companies – including Robert Bosch, BlueScope Steel and Innovia – going by the name of Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC).

It has received support through the Victorian government and the federal Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The project has been running since 2007, and the ABC reports that its work is nearly at the commercialisation stage.

"We would like to improve the efficiency of solar panels – we need to develop solar inks to generate more energy from sunlight," Dr Fiona Scholes, a senior research scientist at the CSIRO, told the ABC.

"We are confident we can push the technology further in the years to come."

The process developed involves a modified conventional printer that can lay out semiconducting inks onto any plastic surface (or steel).

According to the CSIRO, production at 10 metres per minute is possible, or one 30 cm wide panel per every two seconds.

Potential uses range from laptop cases to buildings to phones, and there are several firms reportedly interested in commercialising the technology.


Image: ABC