Novel solar cells are "100 times thinner than a human hair" - Could be applied to numerous surfaces

06/25/2016 - 14:40

Peter Dockrill

Solar power is totally peaking right now, smashing through cost barriers that previously held the technology back, to the extent that in some parts of the world, surplus energy from sunlight is being given away for free.

But if we're ever going to unlock the true potential of solar, we need to thinkbeyond today's large rooftop solar panels, and examine what smaller, lightweight, and even wearable solar cells could do for us.

That's the thinking behind new flexible, ultra-thin photovoltaic cells developed by researchers in South Korea.


Ref: Ultra-thin flexible GaAs photovoltaics in vertical forms printed on metal surfaces without interlayer adhesives. Applied Physics Letters (June 2016) | DOI: 10.1063/1.4954039 | PDF (Open Access)


Wearable flexible electronics often require sustainable power sources that are also mechanically flexible to survive the extreme bending that accompanies their general use. In general, thinner microelectronicdevices are under less strain when bent. This paper describes strategies to realize ultra-thin GaAsphotovoltaics through the interlayer adhesiveless transfer-printing of vertical-type devices onto metal surfaces. The vertical-type GaAs photovoltaic devices recycle reflected photons by means of bottomelectrodes. Systematic studies with four different types of solar microcells indicate that the vertical-type solar microcells, at only a quarter of the thickness of similarly designed lateral-type cells, generate a level of electric power similar to that of thicker cells. The experimental results along with the theoretical analysis conducted here show that the ultra-thin vertical-type solar microcells are durable under extreme bending and thus suitable for use in the manufacturing of wearable flexible electronics.