Oxford develops DSSC for BIPV

Oxford Photovoltaics, a company recently spun out from the University of Oxford by Isis Innovation Ltd., has developed a dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) technology that is printed onto glass or other surfaces and available in a range of colors.

(January 10, 2011) — Oxford Photovoltaics, a company recently spun out from the University of Oxford by Isis Innovation Ltd., has developed a dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) technology that is manufactured from cheap, abundant, non-toxic and non-corrosive materials and can be scaled to any volume. The solar cells suit building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and are fabricated in a range of colors.

The solar cells are printed onto glass or other surfaces, are available in a range of colors and could be ideal for new buildings where solar cells are incorporated into glazing panels and walls.

Click to EnlargeBy combining earlier research on artificial photosynthetic electrochemical solar cells and semiconducting plastics, Oxford PV can now create manufacturable solid-state dye sensitized solar cells. The device is a form of thin film solar technology. Leading thin film technologies are currently hampered by the scarcity of minerals used, according to the developers. Other dye-sensitized solar cells are being held back by the volatile nature of liquid electrolytes.

Oxford PV’s technology replaces the liquid electrolyte with a solid organic semiconductor, enabling entire solar modules to be screen printed onto glass or other surfaces. The materials used are plentiful, environmentally benign and very low cost.

Oxford PV predicts that manufacturing costs of its product will be around 50% less than the current lowest-cost thin film technology and expects its new mechanism will eventually match the unsubsidised cost of electricity generated from fossil fuels. CEO Kevin Arthur said, “We’re working closely with major companies in the sector to demonstrate that we can achieve their expectations on economic and product lifetime criteria.”

Click to EnlargeThe technology suits incorporation of photovoltaic materials into windows and walls and other parts of buildings. Green is the most efficient “semi-transparent” color for producing electricity, although red and purple also work well.

The technology was developed by Dr. Henry Snaith, of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, who notes that they can “process it over large areas very easily. You don’t have to worry about extensive sealing and encapsulation, which is an issue for the electrolyte dye cell.”

Isis Innovation is Oxford’s technology transfer company, responsible for creating new technology companies based upon Oxford research. For Oxford PV, Isis protected and managed the underlying intellectual property, developed the initial business plan, and built the team that is now taking the company forward. Learn more at www.isis-innovation.com

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