THE next generation of solar panels – about one-20th as thick as a sheet of paper – is being developed by Australian researchers.

The ”thin film” solar receivers could eventually transform cityscapes, with their inventors envisaging glass skyscrapers being overlaid with the material to transform them into solar power stations.

”Ultimately, you have got structural building materials which can also generate electricity, so it offers very large potential,” the executive director of the Australian Solar Institute, Mark Twidell, said.

”The other possibility is to create multiple layers of the material so you can capture extra elements of the light spectrum and generate more electricity than most current photovoltaic panels.”

The panels differ from most of the traditional photovoltaic panels seen on roofs today because the layer of silicon that collects sunlight is only about two microns thick, and overlaid on glass.

Instead of a wafer of silicon, silicon gas is crystallised on to a glass plate, and ink-jet printing techniques are used to lay the electrical circuits to convey electricity back to a battery.

source: smh