Plastic makes cheaper solar cells

A University of Queensland researcher is exploring ways to make the next generation of solar cells out of plastics and microscopic crystals instead of silicon.


A University of Queensland (UQ) researcher is exploring ways to make the next generation of solar cells out of plastics and microscopic crystals instead of silicon.



UQ Master of Physics student Michael Deceglie is working on improving the stability and overall efficiency of solar cells. He is currently testing two new ways of making solar cells out of dye-sensitised solar cell and a combined nanocrystal polymer solar cell.



The dye-sensitised cells use dye molecules to inject electrons into a thin titanium dioxide film while the polymer cell is a thin film of plastic mixed with microscopic crystals that channel the charge through the cell.



Deceglie said both methods could produce solar cells that had similar efficiencies to current silicon technology but were cheaper, more flexible, easier to produce and more environmentally friendly.



‘Since electrons don’t move well in the polymers, we incorporate nanocrystals with the polymer to provide a pathway along which electrons can move to generate electrical current,’ Deceglie said. ’The dye-sensitised device works in a manner similar to phosynthesis in plants.’