InnovaLight, a Californian start-up, is developing light-activated power generating. Silicon ink could lead to a way cheaper manufacturing. Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has been working on nanocrystalline dye (PDF) and organic solar cells for some years.
These cells convert sunlight to electricity with the help of dye, carbon and polymer molecules. Both areas of research are still in the early stages and face technical challenges like keeping the chemicals stable and sealing the solar cells.
optics.org: “According to Burke, the ability to solution-process the dots in a so-called silicon ink could lead to cheaper manufacturing. ‘You now have the potential to produce thin-film photocells which lends itself to high-throughput manufacturing using existing roll-to-roll printing technology,’ he said. ‘Our modelling indicates that there will be substantial improvements in cost versus how silicon is used today.’Solution-processing also means that InnovaLight can deposit its silicon nanocrystals onto flexible substrates. This opens up a vast array of markets from consumer applications such as clothing to charge up portable electronics through to flexible battery chargers for the military.”