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Glass Lends Flexibility to Organic PVs

POTSDAM, Germany, July 10, 2014 — A new carrier substrate made from flexible, 100-µm-thin layers of glass better protects organic solar modules and could simplify their manufacture.

A team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research is developing methods for embedding organic solar modules in the flexible glass, which was developed by Corning Inc.

Organic photovoltaics can be embedded in ultra-thin, flexible layers of glass. Courtesy of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research.

“Glass is not only the ideal encapsulating material, it also tolerates process temperatures of up to 400 [°C],” said Danny Krautz, project manager in the Functional Materials and Components research division at Fraunhofer.

Organic solar modules can be manufactured with printing technology, which is faster and more efficient than methods used to produce inorganic silicon cells, according to the researchers.

The thin glass layers are extremely strong, fracture resistant and flexible, allowing them to be gently bowed even in solid form.

So far the researchers have been creating their solar cells sheet by sheet. Next they plan to manufacture the modules in rolls, similar to newsprint. Once the technology is modified for industrial use, the researchers said it could be used in tiny solar cells in mobile phones and large-scale photovoltaic modules.

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