Thanks to intelligence and academic investigation, solar may soon get more convenient and more easily accessible for application and use. Collaboration is important to achieving the massive generation of renewable energy that we need. And such collaboration has helped the development of peel-and-stick solar cells.

A new Si wafer has been developed that can be attached to each and every surface as simply as a sticker due to the enterprise and favorable outcome of Hanyang University and Stanford University researchers. It is clean peel-and-apply option that works with just about any structure or surface. The peeled-off TFSCs from the Si wafer are light and flexible.

Image Credit: Hanyang University
Image Credit: Hanyang University

“Professor Dong Rip Kim of the Department of Mechanical Engineering has succeeded in fabricating peel-and-stick thin film solar cells (TFSCs) with the collaboration of Stanford team led by Professor Xiaolin Zheng,” Jisoo Lee of Internet Hanyang News writes. “This method makes possible the overcoming of hardships related to working with traditional solar cells, namely the lack of handling, high manufacturing cost, and limited flexibility while maintaining performance.”

Going on: “Kim is currently in charge of the Hanyang University Nanotechnology for Energy Conversion Lab. His research interests are solar cells, energy conversion devices using nanomaterials, flexible electronics, nanoelectronics, and nanosensors. Among Kim’s recent publications are ‘Peel-and-Stick: Fabricating Thin Film Solar Cell on Universal Substrates’ in the journal of Scientific Reports, ‘Shrinking and Growing: Grain Boundary Density Reduction for Efficient Polysilicon Thin-Film Solar Cells’ in the journal of Nano Letters, and ‘Thermal Conductivity in Porous Silicon Nanowire Arrays’ in the journal of Nanoscale Research Letters.”

One of the main aims of this research was to bring down the price of solar cells. Another was to make solar cells that were not so rigid and heavy, which brings vulnerabilities and demands a lot of concentration in handling. Such limitations have certainly influenced wider application and use, even though solar cells are considered essential to advance renewable energy causes and tackle global warming.

Providing for convenient implementation, Kim’s and colleagues’ nonconventional or universal substrates address these issues and also “broaden the application spectrum of solar cells.”

Unlike with standard Si wafers or glass substrates, the researchers use the same fabrication method for these peel-and-stick solar cells but add a metal layer “between the fabricated a-Si:H TFSCs and the underlying Si/SiO2 wafer,” Mr Lee writes. “After numerous attempts and trials, Kim and his colleagues found a method to reliably peel the fabricated TFSCs from the Si/SO2 wafer by using water penetration between the metal layer and the SiO2 layer on the wafer.”

Importantly, Kim and his colleagues made the light-weight flexible solar cells without modifying any existing fabrication processes, and their performance was maintained even after the transfer. Kim states that their novel technology is not limited to the solar cells only. Numerous other appliances like flexible displays can adopt his method.

“I will continue to focus on creating highly efficient, but low costing energy conversion devices with nanotechnology,” Kim said. Moreover, his future research will focus on applying his method in other types of solar cells and in other applications.”