U of T researcher’s spray-on solar cells could
transform our devices
A University of Toronto researcher is reinventing solar cell production in a way that could change how we power our devices — and possibly our homes.
Post-doctoral fellow Illan Kramer hopes to make life a lot easier by producing cells that are sprayed onto flexible film that can be wrapped around everything from cellphones to … well, you name it.
He’s using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots in a form of ink produced by chemists at the university’s lab. The way solar cells are now produced, called spin coding or batch processing, is too slow and covers too small of an area, Kramer said.
“If you want to code many square kilometres to try and solve the world’s energy issues, you won’t do it with somebody dipping a drop of liquid at a time,” he said. “You have to be able to coat very large areas very quickly.”
Kramer said his model, called sprayLD and still under development, does that and makes cells easy, fast and cheap to manufacture. A surface as big as a car’s roof coated with the film could produce enough energy to power three 100-watt light bulbs.
Kramer’s hope is to one day have technicians carrying backpacks filled with all the material needed to spray down, for example, the roof of home, but he knows he’s a long way off from that point.
“We’re pretty pleased with how it’s gone so far but we still have some major scientific huddles to clear before we get to want we want to achieve,” he said.
Kramer’s research is getting backing from IBM.