A new prototype solar cell has been designed by researchers at the University of Florida. They claim that it sees new levels of efficiency and could be made using a roll-to-roll process, a spokesman said, "Imagine making solar panels by a process that looks like printing newspaper roll to roll," said Franky So, a UF professor in the department of materials science and engineering.
This process of manufacture has been something of interest for many years but the biggest problem has always been that they simply cannot harness enough energy per square inch from this process to make it a viable option.
Solar Cell panel via Shutterstock
However, this has now changed with the team at the University of Florida achieving 8% efficiency in their new prototype solar cells. They have achieved this by using a zinc oxide polymer blend as the electron charge transporting material.
They say it is the process of applying the zinc that is the secret behind their new success. The chemistry team, run by John Reynolds, has added an extra polymer coating that overlays the zinc oxide polymer blend and Reynolds claims that this is what has seen the increase in efficiency, "That's where the real action is," he said. The polymer blend creates the charges, and the zinc oxide layer delivers electrons to the outer circuit more efficiently."
This new creation will now be transported to Riso National Laboratory over in Denmark. There, they will be able to copy the materials and manufacturing processes to give them more thorough testing. It is a collaboration that could see a new era of solar power, "This sort of thing can only happen when you have interdisciplinary groups like ours working together," said Reynolds.