Nanoparticle Ink Technology to Replace Standard Solar Cell Applications
Researchers at the University of Texas Develop Nano-Ink to Coat Directly on Buildings & Rooftops-
In an extensive solar energy research project conducted at the University of Texas, engineers have discovered an effective, more economical alternative to solar photovoltaic panels utilizing nanoparticle inks. The proprietary nano-ink application could potentially be an extraordinary replacement for standard solar cell manufacturing processes, as they require smoldering temperatures and are comparatively steep in cost, says Brian Korgel of the University of Texas at Austin. “The sun provides a nearly unlimited energy resource…but existing solar energy harvesting technologies are prohibitively expensive and cannot compete with fossil fuels,” said Korgel. Currently, spray-on inks are only 1 percent efficient – while present solar panel technology ranges between 25-50 percent in performance efficiency. Nano-ink, ten-thousand times thinner than a strand of hair, has become a lucrative bond in creating a more sustainable, more efficient solar application that may allow solar cell ink to be coated directly on buildings themselves in the near future. “If we get to 10 percent, then there’s real potential for commercialization,” Korgel said. “If it works, I think you could see it being used in three to five years.” Researchers also expressed that the future of nanotechnology is not just limited to building structures, but may also allow windows to double as solar cells in the future as the inks are semi-transparent. The research project, available in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Welch Foundation and the Air Force Research Laboratory.