As long ago as March of 2008, research has been
surfacing from various institutes working on what can only be
described as solar ink. Konarka Technologies Inc showed its offering
as an organic
ink able to be printed on several surfaces which before were
unusable due to their lack of compatibility with inorganic
This month, researchers at the University of
Texas at Austin have published work with another type of printable
photovoltaic ink. Rather than being organic molecule-based, the UT
group's ink uses a copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) nanopartical
solution. The CIGS solution is both less expensive to manufacture
than silicon-based inks and environmentally friendly.
the researchers have produced prototype cells that produce
electricity at about 1% efficiency. This is far too low to be
commercially viable and the intent is to push the number to 10%
efficiency, bringing the ink up to par.
The inks can be
applied to various surfaces by simply painting them on. Konarka touts
an inkjet printer process, while UT's ink can simply be sprayed or
roll printed on several surfaces, including plastic and stainless
Another interesting property of the UT inks are that
they are semi-transparent after the printing process. This could lead
to layers of the photovoltaic in innocuous places like skylights or
tinted car windows. Or perhaps, combined with new University of
LED technology, could be used to create self-powered display
systems for any number of practical applications.
quote: Take another look at the numbers with incentives. The bottom line changes a lot.