The dye solar cell becomes a commercial reality in the mainstream market

8 05 2012

These days we are gathered at the Hybrid and Organic Photovoltaics (HOPV) Conference in Uppsala, Sweden, chaired by Anders Hagfeldt. This conference is showing the enormous vigor of the research in dye solar cells and organic solar cells.

On monday 7th may Michael Grätzel in the plenary talk, announced that the dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC) was about to become commercialized in the mainstream market, according to a joint development between DSC producer G24 Innovations and major consumer electronic producer Logitech.

This morning I happened to have breakfast with the two inventors of the DSC, Michael Grätzel and Brian O´Regan, authors of the famous Nature paper of 1991 that first proposed to form a solar cell using nanostructured titanium dioxide, a visible light absorbing organic pigment, and a redox liquid. This paper has launched investigations for 20 years that now maintain occupied several thousands of research groups across the world that continue to investigate and improve the properties and performance of the DSC.

But today it was a special day for the two coauthors, and they were utmostly happy, their faces glowing with a  wealthy and deserved success. The DSC is now sold on the Internet. It is a product anyone can buy. Appearing on the homepage of Logitech, is a keyboard for the iPad, with a strip of DSC in the backside that converts ambient light into the electrical energy needed to run the keyboard. The announcement says “The built-in Bluetooth® keyboard is powered by light—low light and lamp light, indoors and out. Fully powered, you can type on it for two years—even in complete darkness.”  Indeed, the use of the DSC gives a big advantage to this application, because this type of solar cells gives excellent performance at low light levels, and when the light is not incident perpendicular to the cell plane.

After many years of efforts, it has been finally demonstrated that the DSC is robust, stable and nice, to enter the market, starting with fancy consumer products, but who knows what is the limit?

Brian O’Regan and Michael Grätzel at HOPV12 in Uppsala


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