In the new findings, researchers were able to create an ink that could print chalcopyrite onto substrates with an inkjet approach, with a power conversion efficiency of about 5 percent. The OSU researchers say that with continued research they should be able to achieve an efficiency of about 12 percent, which would make a commercially viable solar cell.
In related work, being done in collaboration with Greg Herman, an OSU associate professor of chemical engineering, the engineers are studying other compounds that might also be used with inkjet technology, and cost even less.
Some approaches to producing solar cells are time consuming, or require expensive vacuum systems or toxic chemicals. OSU experts are working to eliminate some of those roadblocks and create much less costly solar technology that is also more environmentally friendly. New jobs and industries in the Pacific Northwest could evolve from such initiatives, they say.
If costs can be reduced enough and other hurdles breached, it might even be possible to create solar cells that could be built directly into roofing materials, scientists say, opening a huge new potential for solar energy.
"In summary, a simple, fast, and direct-write, solution-based deposition process is developed for the fabrication of high quality CIGS solar cells," the researchers wrote in their conclusion. "Safe, cheap, and air-stable inks can be prepared easily by controlling the composition of low-cost metal salt precursors at a molecular level."
|Contact: Chih-hung Chang|
Oregon State University