Flexible solar panels are both functional and decorative

While scientists and engineers are still racing to make solar panels more efficient and feasible, some are trying to make the technology more attractive. Literally. Researchers from the VTT Technical Centre of Finland have developed a process that creates solar panels that are not only flexible but also organic and recyclable and can be used on things like windows, walls, machines, and other surfaces that can turn any structure, furniture, or even works of art into light-powered sources of energy for small devices and sensors.

The organic panels are made using a roll-to-roll technique that can produce 100 meters of layered film in one minute. The actual functional layers of the solar panel are printed between plastic foils. The resulting product is only 0.2 mm thick and that already includes the electrodes and the polymers where light is collected. The researcher's first test involves printing leaf-shaped solar cells, about 200 in total which can cover one square meter of an active solar panel.

These much cells can only produce 3.2 amperes of electricity and 10.4 watts of power. Not exactly impressive if you think about how much energy our mobile devices require. But in the right amount and configuration, it might be enough to power very small devices and sensors. The rather low output is also expected given how organic solar panels have considerably lower output compared to traditional solid solar panels. It's a known tradeoff when you opt for something that is more cost-effective to create and flexible. The cells can also be used indoors, slurping energy from indoor lights as well as sunlight.

That said, the researchers aren't stopping with what is commonly accepted facts. They are trying to push the boundaries of the energy output by switching from photovoltaic solar cell to perovskite, yielding output five times more than their previous organic cells.

VIA: Gizmag