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From Printer Friendly to Energy Producer, New Paper Based Solar Cells Pave Way to the Future

For some time now the Earth has had a problem with the deep environmental change that humans have inflicted upon it. For this reason we need to find better ways to help the environment and move away from harmful practices that could devastate our ecosystems beyond repair. Solar panels were a way for this event to take place, but they have had issues still with cost and with availability and portability. While these were indeed current problems with solar energy and the use of solar panels, MIT’s new invention in this niche could change all that in the blink of an eye.

What is this new revolutionary invention that MIT has come up with in the area of solar energy you ask? Well in astonishing fashion MIT has been able to create the world’s most amazing solar panel, one that prints on paper. Now it may sound strange and you’re sitting there asking yourself “How the heck does this thing even work if it’s on paper”? Well to put it simply scientist at MIT have printed thin solar paper by coating the white sheets of paper with organic semiconductors which allows for turning an object we use for our everyday printing into a fully useable device. This will allow for a much lower cost in the area of solar panels and also provide for a more portable light weight material for universal use.

The process of creating such a panel though works similar to that of the current inkjet printers. The inject printer deposits ink onto the paper both cheaply and quickly and in this same sense the MIT scientist are doing the same. The MIT scientist use a process similar to the ink jet and deposit carbon based dyes which are then used on the paper as organic semiconductors that then absorb the sunlight and convert it into solar energy. This material can continue to be used as long as it is first deposited on the paper at around room temperature, which allows for no real special conditions when manufacturing the solar panel itself.

The main problem MIT scientist have run into however is that the efficiency of such panels is not very great currently in that it is only around 1.5 to 2 percent but it’s a step in the right direction and could still revolutionize the solar industry with more research as that efficiency begins to improve. The other problem is that it is only in its baby form and it will be a while before large scale manufacturing occurs and according to MIT it will be years before anything like it hits the market. These drawbacks however do not end the enormous possibilities that it opens including the ability to coat highways and other objects with the material so that energy can be harnessed from sunlight during the day and eventually revolutionize the energy grid in America and around the world.

Sources Used

http://www.greentechnologydaily.com/new-technologies/689-mit-researchers-print-solar-cell-on-paper