Tile adhesive helps make solar cells cheaper

Swansea University researchers have developed a new design for printed solar cells using a material based on ordinary tile adhesive.

The researchers, based at the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre in Baglan, Port Talbot, have replaced a conductive layer of gold that is expensive and difficult to apply with a nickel grid that is stuck down using a new material based on tile adhesive. The newly developed adhesive is conductive and transparent, allowing solar cells to be applied to glass as well as metal.

Dan Bryant, a researcher at Swansea University who came up with the idea, explained: “What makes this new design especially exciting is that we’ve done it using materials that are inexpensive, safe and easy to use. In doing so we’ve overcome a major barrier to manufacturing these cells in the kind of quantity that would make a big difference to the UK energy system. With our new design we have achieved an efficiency of nearly 16% in the lab, which is comparable to conventional and commercial solar technologies.”

Hailed as the next big thing in solar technology, third generation perovskite solar cells are flexible and lightweight, which means they can be applied to roofs and walls or printed onto building materials during manufacture. They work well in the low light conditions common in the UK.

The centre will now look at scaling up the technology.

The research, which was undertaken in partnership with Oxford University and nickel grid maker Epigem, has been published in the journal, Advanced materials.

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