Will You Be Able to Print the Solar Cells for Your Wings?

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

That may sound like a silly question, but thin-film solar cells are pushing the boundaries of lightness and efficiency that will make them viable candidates for use on aircraft.  Looking back at earlier achievements demonstrates the great things that can be done with limited resources.  Eric Raymond, for instance, made a solar-powered flight across the United States in 1990 on amorphous solar cells that were only about two percent efficient. His Sunseeker Duo, which he flies around Italy and Switzerland with Irena, his wife and co-builder, has modern thin-film cells that are 23-percent efficient – a ten-fold gain.  Before that, the earliest two solar-powered flights were charged by big, round solar cells, not terribly efficient and lacking full coverage of …

Shaping Plastics into Inexpensive Solar Cells

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Dr. Yeuh-Lin Loo, an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering, has led a team of Princeton, University of Texas – Austin, Pennsylvania State University, University of California – Santa Barbara, and Dupont researchers in developing a conductive plastic that takes the place of expensive indium tin oxide (ITO) used in solar cells, flat-screen TVs, and other electronic devices with display screens.  ITO, a byproduct of mining, is rare and expensive, but a necessity in today’s electronics.  An inexpensive substitute would be desirable in bringing costs down and removing pressure from the growing demand for ITO.  Loo comments on this in the Princeton press release.  “The cost of indium tin oxide is skyrocketing.  To bring down the costs of plastic solar cells, …