News

Challenges for mass-production of flexible solar cells: durability and environmental impact

A key to durable and environmentally friendly cells lies in the encapsulation.
Flexible dye solar cell prepared on metal and polymer substrates. Image: Janne Halme.

If scientists’ dreams came true, everyday items such as mobile devices, clothing and vehicles would be equipped with flexible solar cells. A recent review article by researchers of Aalto University and University of Montreal reports on recent developments in the commercialisation and mass production of flexible dye solar cells as well as highlights remaining challenges. The applicability for large-scale mass production, encapsulation of the cells, their durability, and their environmental net impact are among key issues discussed.

A key requirement for flexible solar cell technologies to be viable at industrial scale is that all components of the cells should lend themselves to roll-to-roll production. Recent development of, for instance, ink-jet printing is promising in this respect as it allows precise insertion of the dye and electrolyte components.

The encapsulation of a flexible cell poses a major challenge to manufacture. If encapsulation is insufficient, the liquid electrolyte can leak out of the cell or let impurities leak inside, which could considerably reduce the lifetime of the device. New innovations are required for joining the substrates together, since conventional approaches, such as glass-frit used in rigid devices, are unsuitable for flexible cells.

‘A prerequisite for commercialization is making the lifetime of devices adequate. Flexible solar cells are usually made on metals or plastics, and both come with perils: a metal may corrode, and plastics may allow water and other impurities to permeate,’ explains Academy Research Fellow Kati Miettunen from Aalto University in Finland.

A future goal is the development of more stable options for flexible substrates, that would preferably come with a cheaper price and lesser environmental impact. New discoveries using biomaterials or a hybrid material with wood pulp as substrates for the cells could pave the way forward.

Further information:

Kati Miettunen
Academy Research Fellow, Project Manager
Aalto University
[email protected]
tel. +358 50 3441729      

  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Related news

Groups of students sitting in work lounge inside the School of Business / Photo by Aalto University, Mikko Raskinen
Research & Art Published:

School of Business ranked second in B2B marketing in prestigious international journal’s evaluation

Fruitful co-operation between Finnish universities and excellent university-business collaboration essential
Mallinnus aerosolien leviämisestä bussissa.
Press releases, Research & Art Published:

New simulation code to eliminate need for super computers in modelling indoor aerosols

Focused on public indoor environments, the code will be openly available for researchers and other professionals
Research & Art Published:

BEYOND MATTER aims to develop novel solutions for the accessible documentation and presentation of exhibitions

BEYOND MATTER is an international, interdisciplinary project on the revival of past landmark exhibitions, the documentation of current exhibitions and the dissemination of documentation along with actual artworks –
both materially and immaterially present – in innovative ways.
Research & Art Published:

SPICE promotes social cohesion by citizen curation of cultural heritage

An EU-H2020 funded SPICE aims to promote social cohesion by researching and developing tools and methods to support citizen curation with groups at risk of exclusion to actively interact and participate in a shared culture.