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Power-Conducting Plastics Could Significantly Slash the Cost of Solar Panels


Solar panels have become very popular these days, but the cost of making them has also reached a fairly high level. So far this thing happened because of the expensive materials used, but today researchers have managed to develop some new power-conducting plastics, able to slash the cost of making solar panels. In order to do that, they replaced tin oxide with conductive plastics.

Yueh-Lin Loo, associate professor of chemical engineering at Princeton University presented some of the advantages of using “organic electronics” and he explained why these plastics are so effective. “Conductive polymers (plastics) have been around for a long time, but processing them to make something useful degraded their ability to conduct electricity…We have figured out how to avoid this trade-off. We can shape the plastics into a useful form while maintaining high conductivity”, said Yueh-Lin Loo.

The research team led by Yueh-Lin Loo has initially thought that the development of moldable plastics could lead to a new generation of electronic materials. But once they have progressed in their research, they found that there is a big inconvenience factor in making the plastics moldable. Moldable polymer structures are trapped in a rigid form so electricity cannot pass through them. To solve this problem, Loo’s team developed a way to relax the structures. After the plastics were processed into the desired form, they were treated with an acid to maintain conductivity.

They even started to print these power-conducting plastics, in order to improve the efficiency and profitability of solar panels. “Being able to essentially paint on electronics is a big deal.” Loo said. “You could distribute the plastics in cartridges the way printer ink is sold, and you wouldn’t need exotic machines to print the patterns.” Using low-cost printing techniques and moldable power-conducting plastics, the cost of making solar panels would significantly decrease and then we will be able to acquire such systems at a much more convenient price.

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