Page 46 - Print 21 Magazine Sep-Oct 2018
P. 46

Printed solar lights new way in Newcastle
“The lightweight solar cells can be produced at less than $10 per square metre on standard narrow web presses.”
– Paul Dastoor
polymeric materials with the same electronic behaviours as silicon that can be turned into a liquid solution
for printable paints and inks,” he says. “We are replacing conventional hard inorganic semiconductors with flexible organic semiconducting materials.”
Dastoor says the lightweight solar cells, which were exhibited at PacPrint last year, can be produced at a cost
of less than $10 per square metre on standard narrow web presses, and secured with ordinary double-sided tape. “You don’t need specialised equipment – we used a conventional reel-to-reel press, supplied by GM, that is normally used to make wine labels.”
The inks can be printed using standard flexo, screen and spot dye processes, and there is collaboration with Fuji Xerox on inkjet. According
to Dastoor, the opportunities for commercial printers in this space, dubbed functional printing, are huge. “There is enormous potential, and it doesn’t just stop at solar panels,” he says. “We are able to print structures that have electronic function.
“We have an enormous project looking at building biosensors – this same printing can be used to print transistors in which we can embed bio-molecules, and we are now working on sensors for glucose that will test your saliva rather than your blood. There are 440 million people with diabetes, and they have to stab themselves six to ten times per day. Imagine if instead they could simply lick a printed sensor.”
Dastoor plans to test the performance and durability of the printed cells, then recycle them into new cells at the end of their lifespan.
Five PhD students from the University of Newcastle’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) installed 200 square metres of solar cells, printed onto strips of PET plastic as thin as a packet of chips,
on the roof of the plant in the space
of 12 hours. “It is an exciting project. The University of Newcastle has the innovation and the ideas here, and our role was to help them bring those ideas to life,” says Austin. “This enables so much greater access and availability for industry and households to plug in to solar energy at a low cost and with minimal environmental impact.” 21
The first commercial installation of printed organic solar cells, at the Chep facility near Newcastle, highlights the wealth of opportunities functional printing has to offer the printing industry, as Jake Nelson discovered when he visited the site.
Showing off the new solar cells: (l-r) Phillip Austin, Chep; Sharon Claydon, federal MP for Newcastle; Professor Paul Dastoor, University of Newcastle.
A sample of the printed cells on display inside the Beresfield plant.
are appearing, with industrial printing often cited as the area with the greatest possibility.
s old print markets disappear - think street directories, airline
and concert tickets, newspapers - new ones
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Chep pallet repair facility at Beresfield Phillip Austin, president of Chep Asia- Pacific, hailed the installation of flexo printed solar panels as a landmark collaboration between science and commercial enterprise. “A chance
as a business to be able to make a difference with energy, to increase access and availability to draw it
from the right sources, and to reduce costs – why would we not want to get involved?” he tells Print21. “It really makes a difference in terms of people’s outcomes for sustainability.”
According to the driving force behind the flexible solar panels, University of Newcastle’s Professor Paul Dastoor, the ink, which has the same electronic properties as silicon, is a significant breakthrough. “Most people are familiar with standard silicon solar cells – they are hard, they are rigid, they are covered in glass. What we have here is a set of

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