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Oxford PV develops new thin-film solar cell

Oxford Photovoltaics (Oxford PV) has developed a new solid state thin-film solar cell made from cheap, non-toxic materials which can be printed onto glass or walls.

By Isabella Kaminski

Oxford PV's new device is a form of thin-film solar technology, which replaces the liquid electrolyte with a solid organic semiconductor, enabling entire solar modules to be screen printed onto glass or other surfaces.

The company says the materials used are plentiful, environmentally benign and very low cost, and predicts the manufacturing costs of this product will be around 50% less than the current lowest-cost thin film technology.

The technology is based on research from the University of Oxford. By combining earlier research on artificial photosynthetic electrochemical solar cells and semiconducting plastics, Oxford PV says it can now create manufacturable solid-state dye sensitised solar cells.

Dr Henry Snaith, of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, who developed the technology, says: “One of the great advantages is that we can process it over large areas very easily. You don’t have to worry about extensive sealing and encapsulation, which is an issue for the electrolyte dye cell.”

According to the company, green is the most efficient 'semi-transparent' colour to use in cells for producing electricity, although red and purple also work well. The cells can be printed onto glass or other surfaces, so they can be incorporated into the glazing panels and walls of new buildings.

Kevin Arthur, CEO of Oxford PV, says: “This technology is a breakthrough in this area. We’re working closely with major companies in the sector to demonstrate that we can achieve their expectations on economic and product lifetime criteria.”

Oxford PV is a spin-off company from Isis Innovation, which creates new technology companies based upon University of Oxford research.

Oxford PV will be profiled in an upcoming issue of Renewable Energy Focus magazine.

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