As part of the recent official dedication of the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center (SFC) this week, MIT president Susan Hockfield and Eni CEO Paolo Scaroni showcased a piece of paper coated with solar cells, produced using a technique that involves an organic semiconductor material.
The SFC, funded in part by the Italian oil company Eni and the National Science Foundation, developed the technique as part of suite of research projects aimed at producing energy breakthroughs, according to CNet. The technique makes use of a process similar to an inkjet printer, which would offer manufacturers a cheap and easy way to lower the weight of solar panels. Vladimir Bulovic, the SFC’s director, summed it up, in a statement: “If you could use a staple gun to install a solar panel, there could be a lot of value.”
Solar cells printed on a paper are just one of the many innovations produced over the last two years by the SFC, headquartered on the MIT campus, which promotes research in advanced solar technologies through projects ranging from new materials to hydrogen production from solar energy. Since 2008, the SGC has succeeded in constructing the first ultra-flexible solar cell, advancing the production of virus-based metal contacts for solar cells, developing solar cells that mimic the photosynthetic process, advancing the understanding of how photosynthesis splits water molecules and constructing a prototype for maximizing return on investment in solar thermal plants using parabolic mirrors for cost-effective solar-concentrators.
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