Start-up works on ‘spray-on’ photovoltaic windows

A US solar energy start-up has developed a technique for manufacturing its ‘spray-on’ photovoltaic windows.

New Energy Technologies believes the technique should lead to higher production speed, lower overall costs and greater durability of the end product.

‘These achievements have moved us closer to our manufacturing, scale-up, and power production goals — all-important factors to advancing our Solar Window technology towards commercial launch,’ said John Conklin, chief executive officer at New Energy.

In collaboration with the University of South Florida and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the company previously debuted its Solar Window technology — based on an organic photovoltaic solution that can be sprayed directly onto glass as an incredibly thin, sub-micrometer layer.

The next challenge was to attempt to develop methods for scaling up the fabrication method.

Vacuum deposition is both expensive and time consuming and, thus, not practical for high-speed and large-scale applications. However, the latest manufacturing innovation enables high-speed roll-to-roll and sheet-to-sheet manufacturing, according to the company.

Importantly, the process can be executed at ambient pressure and low temperatures, avoiding the use of expensive materials that must otherwise be used with high-temperature vacuum deposition.

Dr Scott Hammond, principal scientist at New Energy, believes the discovery could also favourably improve durability and shelf-life of the company’s future products.

‘NREL scientists have previously published unrelated results that demonstrate dramatic improvements to the operational and shelf-life of unprotected (i.e. non-encapsulated) photovoltaic devices utilising related materials when subjected to continuous illumination. No doubt, this is a promising and significant advancement.’