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Flexible films for photovoltaics
Date:5/26/2011

This release is available in German.

What do potato chips and thin-film solar cells have in common? Both need films that protect them from air and water vapor: the chips in order to stay fresh and crisp; the solar cells in order to have a useful life that is as long as possible. In most cases, glass is used to protect the active layers of the solar cells from environmental influences. Dr. Klaus Noller from the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising explains the advantages of a plastic film: "The films are considerably lighter and flexible. They make new production processes possible that enable significant reductions in the cost of manufacturing a photovoltaic module." Instead of working with individual glass plates, the solar cells could be printed onto a plastic film and then encapsulated with the barrier film: photovoltaic modules on a roll.

That is not a small goal that the researchers from two Fraunhofer institutes want to achieve: The film and packaging developers led by Dr. Klaus Noller along with Dr. Sabine Amberg-Schwab from the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Wrzburg, who is an expert in hybrid polymers, called ORMOCERs an in-house development of the ISC. She and her team worked almost 20 years on developing a coating material on the basis of ORMOCER that can be used as an effective barrier against oxygen and water vapor. What has been created is a barrier lacquer that the researchers combined with another known barrier material: silicon dioxide. "The results were astounding," said Amberg-Schwab: "A barrier effect that is far better than could be expected from adding only the two layers. The reason for this are special effects that are generated between the two materials."

For the ideal application on a film, the team in Wrzburg developed an ORMOCER coating material that is eas
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Contact: Dr. Sabine Amberg-Schwab
sabine.amberg-schwab@isc.fraunhofer.de
49-931-410-0620
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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