Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are considered a suitable photovoltaic system for urban applications and highly bendable DSSCs can be expanded to applications such as dispensable DSSCs for commercial advertising and small portable power sources.

However, although many reports have shown flexible or highly bendable photoelectrodes using TCO-coated polymeric substrates or metal meshes, until now, few have shown highly bendable DSSCs using electrodes because the flexibility of a single electrode is not a critical issue for highly bendable DSSCs.

Here, we report a new DSSC design, inspired by the traditional Korean door structure consisting of a paper-bonded wooden frame, and a process for TCO-free highly bendable DSSCs utilizing glass paper and metal mesh. In the new DSSC design, constituents such as stainless steel mesh and mesoporous TiO2 loaded with a Ru-complex dye were bonded on the glass paper, which was sputter-coated with Pt on one side and filled with electrolyte.

The glass-paper-based flexible DSSCs showed 2% energy-conversion efficiency, which was maintained under bending until the radius of curvature reached 2 cm. The new glass-paper-based flexible DSSCs may have potential applications as low-cost highly bendable solar cells to overcome the limitations of conventional sandwich-type DSSCs.

Korean researchers have developed “paper solar cell,” applying the structure of traditional Korean pattern of wood framed door and hanji paper concept. It is considered the breakthrough technology that can push the solar voltaic industry a notch upward to explore a new market of solar cell, drawing attention from scientific circles at home and abroad. 

The research team led by Dr. Lee (Lee Dong-yoon and Cha Seung-il) at Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute made the announcement on the 28th that they have combined nano and fiber technologies to come up with light and flexible but low priced dye-sensitized solar cell. It has the durability and permeability with distinctive traditional Korean pattern but overcomes the limit of thin film solar cell which cannot be folded. Therefore, it doesn’t need to have the land to install the solar panels or abide by the strict environmental regulations, or be threatened by Chinese “price war.”

It has also gone a step further from the previously “flexible” solar cell which also had its limit in flexibility due to its base material. The new paper solar cell is expected to be applied in mobile devices or exteriors of buildings, or can be worn or detachable in clothes, opening a new chapter of solar cells.

Unlike the previous dye-sensitized solar cell, new type of paper solar cell uses longer fiber type of nano titania to make traditional hanji like paper which is very flexible and durable. To eradicate plastic substrate, they had also developed conductible metal mesh with the pattern of Korean wood framed door. Finally they attached glass paper to maintain the strength of the solar cell and to fixate electrode liquid.

When it is mass produced, the price of paper solar cell will be less than half of the current Si solar cell but the efficiency level will reach 5%, far beyond the commercialization level of 3%.


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