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Flexible, printable thin-film solar cells

Swiss researchers at Empa have found a new, flexible material that could substitute indium tin oxide (ITO) in flexible thin-film solar cells.

By Renewable Energy Focus staff

With support from the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), Empa and Sefar AG have been looking into using a transparent, flexible, woven polymer using a roll-to-roll printing process.

Metal wires are woven into the material ensuring conductivity before the material is embedded in an inert plastic layer which does not completely cover the metal filaments (to retain conductivity). The resulting electrode is transparent, stable and flexible.

A series of coatings are applied to the substrate to create an organic solar cell with efficiencies compatible to conventional ITO-based solar cells.

The woven electrode is said to be significantly more stable when deformed than commercially available flexible plastic substrates with a thin layer of conductive ITO.

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Photovoltaics (PV)