Researchers at Stanford University and the United States Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have co-developed solar cells that most anyone would be happy to buy: they can be put on nearly any surface. Stanford’s Xiaolin Zheng and NREL principal scientist Qi Wang were the leaders of the project.
While Stanford researchers had developed the printing technology needed to print electronics on transfer sheets, it was with the help of NREL that moved the technology beyond that to include thin-film solar cells. These peel-and-stick sheets are less than one-micron thick, flexible, and require only a quick blast of 90 degree Celsius heat to be peeled apart.
The technology, if made widely available, could change the way we charge and power our portable devices – and nearly anything else. Solar cells could be stuck on buildings, rooftops, glass surfaces, the tops of cars, etc. You name it, you could coat it in peel-and-stick thin-film solar cells to provide power from the sun.
Stick a solar cell on your cellphone? Yep. Stick one on your portable wireless speakers? Yep. The way we use in-wall chargers could soon be a thing of the past, and I don’t know about you but I would welcome that day. I am getting tired of needing chargers in every room and in my car!