New Energy Unveils Technology to Spray Solar Cells onto See-Thru Windows to Generate Electricity

January 21, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

New Energy Technologies, Inc., developer of MotionPower™ technologies for generating sustainable electricity from the kinetic energy of moving vehicles and SolarWindow™ technologies capable of generating electricity on see-thru glass windows, announced that researchers have developed a novel, patent-pending process for ’spraying’ solar cells and their related components onto glass.

"The ability to spray solar coatings directly onto glass follows on the heels of our recent breakthrough which replaced visibility-blocking metal with environmentally-friendly see-thru compounds, and marks an important advance in the development of our see-thru glass windows capable of generating electricity," announced Meetesh V. Patel, President and CEO of New Energy Technologies. "In commercial terms, this new spray technology could translate into important manufacturing advantages for our SolarWindow, including significant cost-savings, high-speed production, and room-temperature deposition – common barriers to commercial success for innovative solar technologies."

Once scaled-up for use in commercial-scale production, researchers anticipate the ability to spray solar coatings directly onto New Energy’s first-of-its-kind see-thru SolarWindow, currently under development, could provide significant commercial production advantages over today’s thin-films. Conventional solar films are typically manufactured using expensive and slow manufacturing methods which rely on high-temperature and finicky ’vacuum deposition’ processes for depositing solar materials onto substrates; the resultant products are simply too thick to allow for transparency, an important consideration in the development of a commercially viable solar-powered glass window.

Last week, New Energy announced that researchers successfully overcame one of the biggest transparency-related obstacles faced by scientists developing New Energy’s SolarWindow technology – the presence of metal, an opaque material which blocks visibility and prevents light from passing through glass. Eliminating metal has proved especially challenging since the metal component acts as the negative ’polar contact’ – an important function in collecting the electricity generated from solar cells on the surface of the glass.

Last week’s breakthrough replaces this ’visibility-blocking’ metal with environmentally-friendly and more transparent compounds. These compounds now function as the negative polar contact and collect electricity from New Energy’s SolarWindow.

The production of solar-generated electricity on glass is made possible by the world’s tiniest working solar cells, which along with their related components, have now been successfully sprayed on to glass surfaces by researchers currently developing the company’s SolarWindow. These ultra-small solar cells measure less than 1/4 the size of a grain of rice, are fabricated using environmentally-friendly materials, and successfully produce electricity.

Unique performance properties of New Energy’s ultra-small solar cells enable development of an ultra-thin film, only 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair, or 1/10th of a micrometer. In contrast, conventional thin films are exponentially thicker, measuring several micrometers thick and inhibiting transparency. In photovoltaic applications such as see-thru windows, where transparency is a primary concern, today’s thin film solar cells simply cannot be utilized to produce a transparent solar window for application in homes, offices, and commercial buildings.

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