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Peel-and-Stick Solar Panels: A World First
Justin McGar / DesignBuild Source / January 10, 2013
Researchers at the Stanford School of Engineering have succeeded in developing the world’s first peel-and-stick thin-film solar cells.
The idea will allow the cells to be applied to almost any surface, with successful tests having been conducted on paper, plastic and window glass. This opens up significant opportunities for alternative applications for solar technology, previously limited by traditional solar cells, which must be mounted on stiff, often heavy, fixed panels.
Though fabricating thin-film solar panels on flexible substrates has been successfully achieved before, previous efforts have required modifications of existing processes or materials. The Stanford researchers’ solution has been achieved without modifying any existing processes, facilities or materials, making them viable commercially.
The decal-like application process provides the real difference from existing thin-film photovoltaic cells as they do not require any direct fabrication on the final carrier substrate.
“Non-conventional 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,” said Xiaolin Zheng, a Stanford assistant professor of mechanical engineering and senior author of the paper. “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.”