A team of Finnish scientists found a way to print solar electricity-generating photographs. In a world obsessed with pictures and advertisement, this could create a new important source of energy.
As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. A new breakthrough means it could also be worth some precious electrons.
A team of scientists from Aalto University developed a method allowing pictures and texts to be printed as solar cells. They used a light absorbing, photovoltaic ink developed by researchers from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. The study explains that the solar cells are produced by “inkjet printing with a concentrated dye solution over [a titanium dioxide film]”. The film reacts with the ink to create a dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) that is based on the shape of the photo. The research team claims that with the inkjet printing technique, DSSCs can be printed with a variety of color density and transparency levels.
“The inkjet-dyed solar cells were as efficient and durable as the corresponding solar cells prepared in a traditional way. They endured more than one thousand hours of continuous light and heat stress without any signs of performance degradation.”
- Ghufran Hashmi, postdoctoral researcher at Aalto University
The fact that pictures and texts can be printed as energy-generating solar cells opens up numerous possibilities. Solar panels are becoming more widespread but they are often limited to the roofs of buildings. Photovoltaic prints, on the other hand, could be integrated into the design of buildings to generate renewable energy without ruining their look (and perhaps even enhancing it). What if a small part of the advertising billboards and huge signs that are plastered all over our cities were printed as solar cells?
The possibilities are endless.