CSIRO: Australia prints largest and thinnest solar cells.

CSIRO printerThanks to this awesome new printer that uses semiconducting and can print solar-powered cells directly onto paper-thin plastic and steel, Australia is making solar energy more accessible than ever.

The kind of solar energy we’re used to seeing, like on our rooftops and in our solar-powered calculators, is traditionally made from silicon, which is quite expensive and complicated to produce. CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has pioneered the production of organic photovoltaics; that is, flexible and paper-thin, plastic solar cells that are printable and much more cost effective than silicon.

Now, CSIRO has teamed up with The University of Melbourne, Monash University and industry partners, collectively known as the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC), to create a new printer than they say can print these solar cells onto anything from advertising signage for solar-powered signs to laptop cases for backup power for your computers. That’s just the beginning. Right now, the cells can be printed and slapped on to just about anything, coming out as big as 30 cm/12 in. wide and the printer produces 10 meters/33 feet of cells every 60 seconds. And the technology is advancing quickly. You can read more about their new printer and future plans for it here.

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CSIRO materials scientist, Dr Scott Watkins, holding a sheet of flexible solar cells

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Category: Technology