Navigation Links
Plastic electronics could slash the cost of solar panels
Date:4/2/2010

A new technique developed by Princeton University engineers for producing electricity-conducting plastics could dramatically lower the cost of manufacturing solar panels.

By overcoming technical hurdles to producing plastics that are translucent, malleable and able to conduct electricity, the researchers have opened the door to broader use of the materials in a wide range of electrical devices.

With mounting concerns about global warming and energy demand, plastics could represent a low-cost alternative to indium tin oxide (ITO), an expensive conducting material currently used in solar panels, according to the researchers.

"Conductive polymers [plastics] have been around for a long time, but processing them to make something useful degraded their ability to conduct electricity," said Yueh-Lin Loo, an associate professor of chemical engineering, who led the Princeton team. "We have figured out how to avoid this trade-off. We can shape the plastics into a useful form while maintaining high conductivity."

A multi-institutional team reported on its new technique in a paper published online March 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The area of research, known as "organic electronics" because plastics are carbon-based like living creatures, holds promise for producing new types of electronic devices and new ways of manufacturing existing technologies, but has been hampered by the mysterious loss of conductivity associated with moldable plastics.

"People didn't understand what was happening," said Loo, who co-wrote the paper. "We discovered that in making the polymers moldable, their structures are trapped in a rigid form, which prevented electrical current from traveling through them."

Once they understood the underlying problem, Loo and her colleagues developed a way to relax the structure of the plastics by treating them with an acid after they were processed into the desired form.

Using the method, they were able to make a plastic transistor, a fundamental component of electronics that is used to amplify and switch electronic signals. They produced the electrodes of the transistor by printing the plastic onto a surface, a fast and cheap method similar to the way an ink-jet printer produces a pattern on a piece of paper.

Loo said the technique potentially could be scaled up for mass production presses akin to those used to print newspapers. "Being able to essentially paint on electronics is a big deal," Loo said. "You could distribute the plastics in cartridges the way printer ink is sold, and you wouldn't need exotic machines to print the patterns."

By allowing plastic solar cells to be manufactured using low-cost printing techniques and by replacing ITO as the primary conducting material, the plastics the team developed hold potential for lowering the cost of solar panels.

Currently, the electricity generated by plastic solar cells is collected by a transparent metal conductor made of ITO. The conductor must be transparent so that sunlight can pass through it to the materials in solar cells that absorb the light energy.

A rare and pricey byproduct of mining, ITO had come under increasing demand for use in flat-screen televisions, mobile phones and other devices with display screens. "The cost of indium tin oxide is skyrocketing," Loo said. "To bring down the costs of plastic solar cells, we need to find a replacement for ITO. Our conducting plastics allow sunlight to pass through them, making them a viable alternative."

The researchers anticipate that the plastics also could replace expensive metals used in other electronic devices, such as flexible displays. In addition, the scientists are beginning to explore the use of the plastics in biomedical sensors that would display a certain color if a person had an infection. For instance, the plastics turn from yellow to green when exposed to nitric oxide, a chemical compound produced during ear infections in children.

If the devices could be produced at a low cost, they might be useful in developing countries that lack advanced medical facilities. "You wouldn't need any fancy machines or lab equipment to diagnose an infection," Loo said, "all you would need is your eyes to see the color change in the plastics."


'/>"/>

Contact: Chris Emery
cemery@princeton.edu
609-258-4597
Princeton University, Engineering School
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Grubs passion for plastic causes water loss
2. Simplifying manufacture of drugs, plastics earns UH chemist top honor
3. Researchers use high tech in mold watermark to protect plastic products from piracy
4. Boost for green plastics from plants
5. Reproductive plasticity revealed: Neotropical treefrog can choose to lay eggs in water or on land
6. Protein fibrils as alternative plastics?
7. Iowa Corn Promotion Board, NJIT to license breakthrough, safe bio-plastic alternative
8. Plastics suspect in lobster illness
9. Kalyon wins Society of Plastics Engineers 2008 Research Award
10. 6 environmental research studies reveal critical health risks from plastic
11. Astrocytes and synaptic plasticity
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Plastic electronics could slash the cost of solar panels
(Date:11/28/2016)... 28, 2016 "The biometric ... 16.79%" The biometric system market is in the ... the near future. The biometric system market is expected ... at a CAGR of 16.79% between 2016 and 2022. ... biometric technology in smartphones, rising use of biometric technology ...
(Date:11/22/2016)... , Nov. 22, 2016   MedNet Solutions ... the entire spectrum of clinical research, is pleased to ... Medical LiveWire Healthcare and Life Sciences Awards as ... caps off an unprecedented year of recognition and growth ... for over 15 years. iMedNet ...
(Date:11/17/2016)... Global Market Watch: Primarily supported by ownership types; ... Academics) market is to witness a value of US$37.1 billion ... Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.75% is foreseen from ... 2014-2020. North America is not way ... Europe at 9.56% respectively. Report Focus: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... 2016 , ... KBioBox llc announced today the launch of ... a sophisticated “3 click” gene dditing off target analysis program and a “3 ... https://www.kbiobox.com/ and powered by the company’s proprietary BioEngine. Scientists, pharmaceutical researchers ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016  Soligenix, Inc. ... biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing products ... unmet medical need, announced today the long-term follow-up ... SGX942 (dusquetide), a first-in-class Innate Defense Regulator (IDR), ... head and neck cancer patients undergoing chemoradiation therapy ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016 Eutilex Co. ... billion KRW (US $18.9M) Series A financing. This financing ... G.N. Tech Venture and SNU Bio Angel. This new ... 30.5 billion KRW (US $27.7M) since its founding in ... to bolster the development and commercialization of its immuno-oncology ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... , ... December 07, 2016 , ... ... has concluded that “in the setting of previously treated, advanced pancreatic cancer, liquid ... defining the optimal patient population and timing of blood sampling may improve the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: