The solar innovation which consists in the realization of a foldable solar cell is a small revolution in the world of photovoltaic. The development of a prototype foldable solar cell is the result of the collaboration of an international team of researchers at the South Korean National University of Pusan. If the technology still suffers from some defects, its efficiency is already higher than all expectations.
A major solar innovation but needs improvement: explanation
An innovation possible thanks to the democratization of foldable screens
This solar innovation which consists in developing foldable solar cells has taken advantage of the democratization of foldable screen technologies.
But unlike technologies for smartphone displays, for example, foldable solar cells still suffer from poor bending strength. These are actually composed of traditional materials such as glass substrate and metal oxide conductors. However, with these materials, the cells are flexible, but not totally bendable.
Looking for a flexible, but most importantly, fully collapsible driver
In fact, the research team was looking for a thin, flexible, transparent and resilient conductive material. This is done when they test synthetic walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) films. However, there remains a problem: SWNTs adhere poorly to the substrate surface when the bending force is applied.
The team therefore sought to chemically dope the SWNTs. She used a conductive layer in a polyimide substrate to fill the empty spaces in the nanotubes.
The team then boosts this result to improve performance. They then introduce small impurities into the SWNT-PI nanocomposite layer which allows more charge to be generated for a given amount of current.
A prototype with unmatched power convertibility
The prototype developed by the team is a major technical breakthrough exceeding all possible expectations. The cells are then only 7 micrometers thick for a great resistance and an impressive transparency (80%). And this, while being extremely efficient. In this sense, this prototype allows a power conversion of 15.2%, the highest result ever achieved.
With this very promising prototype of a foldable solar cell, researchers have re-launched innovations in the world of solar. At the end of last year, British researchers at Oxford PV had already managed to break the record for the amount of solar energy that can be converted into electricity by a single solar cell. Innovation in photovoltaics is therefore booming.