Still in its preliminary development stages, eco-friendly alternative energy sources have many limiting factors. Two of these confining factors are their finite designs and applicable materials. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology headed by Professor Karen Gleason have made progress in eliminating this problem by discovering a way to print photovoltaic cells on paper.
This is just one of the many findings planned for the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Research Center, spearheaded by MIT president Susan Hockfield and CEO of Eni, Inc. Paolo Scaroni. This project has also received $2 million in funding from the National Science Foundation.
Inspired by inkjet printers, the MIT research team successfully mounted a photovoltaic cell on paper using organic semiconductor material and carbon-based dyes. The result was a cell that performed at approximately 1.5 – 2 percent efficiency. According to team member Vladimir Bulovic, advancements in design to improve the efficiency of the cells are possible by using materials that are more effective viably mounted at room temperature.
Prof. Gleason has submitted a paper for scientific review and is currently awaiting its publish. MIT and Eni conclude that this is the first time that a photovoltaic cell has been printed on paper, rendering this a novel innovation. At a press conference, CEO Scaroni conceded that though this is an important discovery that progresses options for alternative energy sources, current solar energy technology is insufficient to replace hydrocarbon fuels.