MIT engineers created the lightest solar panels


    MIT engineers have developed a process for creating ultra-thin and lightweight polymer-based solar cells. Panels convert light to electricity in the same way as their more familiar counterparts, but they are hundreds of times greater in energy to weight ratio. To demonstrate their ease, scientists placed a small fragment of the panel on the soap bubble.

    Leading research specialist, Professor Vladimir Bulović, explained that parylene polymer and DBP organic were used in the laboratory to make flexible solar panels . Parylene serves as both a substrate and a protective coating. But these materials were chosen only as an example - the main innovation was the method of growing panels.

    The new technology allows you to grow the entire panel as a whole - along with the substrate, filling and protective coating. This eliminates the need for careful handling of parts of the panel, in particular, to prevent dust from entering between its layers. To do this, a special film is applied to the glass substrate, on which the solar panel is grown. At the end of the process, the panel is removed using a film.

    “We place the film in a vacuum, then put the rest of the components on it, and then take it off all at once,” explains Annie Wang, one of the authors of the work.


    Layers of parylene with a thickness of only 2 microns make the resulting panels very thin, flexible and light. They can be applied to almost any surface, from fabrics, mobile devices and various things to balloons. Especially valuable are the properties of new solar panels in areas such as aviation or aeronautics - new panels have one of the highest ratios of energy to weight.

    Standard glass-based panels can produce 15 watts per kilogram, and new panels that have not even reached their maximum in energy production - 6 watts per gram. This is already 400 times more. Of course, while this is a laboratory sample, proof of the technology is working - but the prospects for its use are quite wide.

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