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Hot Off the Press! Thin film solar using tools similar to printing industry

Dr. Thad Druffel, theme leader for solar manufacturing R&D at the Conn Center, inspecting a printed roll of thin film solar cell material produced at UofL’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research.

University of Louisville researchers are reimagining the newspaper printing press to significantly reduce the cost of solar energy.

UofL announced that it has won a $1 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to advance photovoltaics (PV) research and development at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research. The project focuses on thin film solar cell production using a roll-to-roll platform, the same used to print newspapers.

Conn Center researchers have recently developed an extremely rapid processing technique to produce commercially relevant perovskite solar cells, which are made with simple chemistries to harvest light energy. This work was published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

“This technology roll can revitalize a declining printing industry and boost a growing solar industry,” says Thad Druffel, who is leading the research at the Conn Center. “Our process will utilize centuries-old tools for a new market. The goal is to drastically reduce the cost of manufacturing.”

Also on the team are Craig Grapperhaus, chemistry professor, and Delaina Amos, associate chemical engineering professor.

“Great progress is being made by Conn Center researchers on meeting energy demands through scientific and engineering innovation,” said Neeli Bendapudi, president of UofL. “This is a shining example of how UofL is addressing the most important needs of our society.”

About the Solar Energy Technologies Office

The U.S. Department of Energy SETO supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more about investments in new projects to lower solar electricity costs here.

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