While solar panels have had a huge impact on “green” energy production and are utilized by not only companies but also eco-concious individuals, to date, the panels have been clunky and somewhat difficult to install. Thanks to a new project helmed by researchers at Stanford University, this may soon change.
The research team at Stanford was able to create peel-and-stick decals that can actually function as solar cells, creating energy. Not only can they be applied on nearly any kind of surface, they have the potential to completely revolutionize the solar cell industry and may make it even easier to easily create green energy sustainably.
The team tried the peel and stick decals on numerous materials including paper, glass and even plastic, without noticing any difference in the production of energy. Even better, the decals can be removed and used on a different surface, without any impact to their ability to produce energy.
Xiaolin Zheng, one of the scientists on the project, noted, “Nonconventional or ‘universal’ substrates are difficult to use for photovoltaics because they typically have irregular surfaces and they don’t do well with the thermal and chemical processing necessary to produce today’s solar cells. We got around these problems by developing this peel-and-stick process, which gives thin-film solar cells flexibility and attachment potential we’ve never seen before, and also reduces their general cost and weight.”
This new advance will undoubtedly lead to further advances not only in solar technology, but also other industries. “Obviously, a lot of new products — from ‘smart’ clothing to new aerospace systems — might be possible by combining both thin-film electronics and thin-film solar cells,” stated Zheng. “And for that matter, we may be just at the beginning of this technology. The peel-and-stick qualities we’re researching probably aren’t restricted to Ni/SiO2. It’s likely many other material interfaces demonstrate similar qualities, and they may have certain advantages for specific applications. We have a lot left to investigate.”
Stanford’s team is continuing their research and other labs are conducting similar experiments that will have a positive impact on clean energy and hopefully make it possible for the average consumer to utilize these peel and stick panels in their own homes.
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