February 21, 2009 Scientists developing flexible, large area, cost-effective, reel-to-reel printable plastic solar cells have announced that trials have commenced which promise a new era of solar cells that are printed like money. These printable solar cells offer advantages over traditional solar technology because of the potential to mass produce the cells cheaply using polymer printing technology, a process which has already been used in banknotes in more than 20 countries.
Securency International, a banknote printing company, will conduct trials of the flexible, large area printable, plastic solar cells.
The three year $A12 million research project led by Australia's CSIRO Future Manufacturing has assembled a team of world-class scientists spanning chemistry, physics and materials science. The project is currently at the half way point in developing the molecular building blocks which will form the basis of this potential solar energy revolution.
Though there is no firm predictions on when the technology will reach the market, progress to date has reportedly been good, with the printing trials occurring six months ahead of schedule. The technology used for these cells is still in its infancy, but this project aims to speed-up the development of this technology and take it from research to rooftops "as quickly as possible" (again, we're not sure how fast that is). The technology could also lay the groundwork for printable electronics.