Foil Solar Cells
Solar cell technology just keeps on growing. Recent years have added metal foil designs to the solar cell repertoire. With foil-based cells, copper and other materials replace silicon as the semiconductors and are placed into a protective metal foil. While traditional cells require heavy module packaging for protection, solar cells placed in flexible titanium or stainless steel foils are resistant and lightweight at the same time. The material is even thinner than household aluminum foil and comparably flexible, enabling the cells to bend into curved surfaces.
DayStar Technologies Inc. introduced a pioneer version of the foil-based technology in early 2005. The company’s product, LightFoil, was originally designed to meet the challenges of high altitude airships, unmanned aerial vehicles, and orbital satellite craft.
Siemens has come up with another use for foil with their organic solar cells. Like DaySar, the company replaced the popular silicon-based semiconductor. Siemens uses organic photodetectors printed on foils for solar cells that are similarly flexible and lightweight. Nanostar has also researched the potential use of foil to print solar cells using a high-yield roll-to-roll printing process, bringing solar electric soils to the market in a cost-effective way.
As foil-based technology demonstrates, alternatives to silicon wafer cells are constantly being researched to improve the adoption of solar energy on a larger and more compliant scale. According to New Energy New York, it’s also predicted that silicon will be in short supply by 2010.
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