Researchers at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), a Xerox-owned company in Silicon Valley, have developed a new manufacturing method that can help make solar panels more efficient and increase the energy density of batteries.
By squeezing through a print nozzle a silver paste surrounded by a sacrificial material, which would eventually burn off, researchers found that they were able to get very fine silver lines, which in electronics is nothing less than a revolution.
Applying the technology in manufacturing solar panels results in a solar panel with more “blue” area, which is responsible for all energy generating needs. The more the blue area of a solar panel the more energy it can generate and by reducing the size of the connections, which is the task of the silver line, researchers hope that they can easily increase the energy output by 5 percent.
According to the researchers if a 100MW facility simply replaces their old and conventionally developed solar panels with the new ones, the facility can increase the output by 105MW of power.
“By doing that you can make the electrode thicker and as you make it thicker you basically make the energy density for the whole battery higher,” said Scott Elrod, vice president and director of PARC’s hardware systems lab. “So instead of going a hundred miles on an electric vehicle battery you can maybe go a hundred and twenty miles. We think that the improvement is on the order of twenty percent.”
The battery is still in the research stage, but the company has already come up with some prototype button cells. PARC is hoping the technology will be employed in electric car and power tool markets first.