Melbourne researchers have successfully created Australia’s largest and most flexible solar cells, with the aid of a new printer located at CSIRO.
The breakthrough may have far reaching applications, including for public lighting, outdoor signage and mobile power generation.
The scientists are part of a collaboration between research and industry called the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC).
Sathana Dushyanthen (student reporter): Melbourne researchers have successfully created Australia’s largest and most flexible solar cells, with the aid of a new printer located at CSIRO. The scientists are part of a collaboration between research and industry partners called the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC). This was achieved through a collaborationbetween the University of Melbourne and the Bio21 Institute, CSIRO, Monash University and industry partners including Bluescope Steel and security printing firm Innovia Security. In just three years the consortium has gone from making cells the size of a fingernail, to cells 10 centimetres square. They are now able to print organic photovoltaic cells the size of an A3 sheet of paper.
Dr David Jones (Bio21 Institute and School of Chemistry): The consortium is now leading the world in the ability to print solar cell and using different printing technologies, but this is thebeginning of the story. We’re still developing the technologies, still developing the materials to enable us to print in a number of different ways for different applications.
Sathana Dushyanthen: The new printer can roll out 10 metres ofsolar cells per minute, which is equivalent to producing one cell every twoseconds. Using semiconducting inks, the researchers print the cells straight onto paper-thin flexible plastic or steel.
David Jones: So what we’re looking at is, how can we use this technology in the short term, how can we print solar cells to enable advertising (we put solar cells to advertising materials) and shopping centres to drive an active display. So if someone wants to advertise something with nice flashing lights. At the moment, they’re driving that with batteries.
Dr Scott Watkins, (CSIRO Project Leader): In the longer term we see these materials coated onto buildings, windows and roofs to provide power in a wide variety of locations and circumstances
Sathana Dushyanthen: As part of the consortium, graduate students working alongside scientists are involved in training and development programs to improve the technology in the long term.
David Jones: We are now right up there with the rest of the people in the world, but we also got a facility which is different. So we now have a process through our collaboration where we’ll take things from the very very beginning, from designing materials, from making devices in the lab scale right through the large scale printing, which is very very unusual in the world context
Scott Watkins: What we are doing is truly additive manufacturing taking simple substrate such as plastic and steel and coating them and turning them into solar cells. This is what a factory of the future looks like and it’s based here in Melbourne emerging manufacturing precinct
Sathana Dushyanthen: Moving forward, Australia will potentially be one of the largest organic solar cell printing facilities in the world.
Faustina Setiawan, Jeane Prasetya, Wendy Nguyen & Sathana Dushyanthen
University of Melbourne science communication students
Production superviser, University Communications
Video production and camera
Dr David Jones
VICOSC project coordinator, Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne
Dr Scott Watkins
Stream Leader for Organic Photovoltaics at CSIRO
Group Communication Advisor CSIRO Manufacturing, Materials and Minerals
University Communications, University of Melbourne
Communications Manager, Bio 21 Institute