In an extensive series of laboratory tests, the researchers at Fraunhofer ISE succeeded in manufacturing prototypes of large-area dye solar modules on glass. “For the first time, we were able to show that an integrated series connection of cells is possible on large module areas using screen printing technology,” explains Dr. Andreas Hinsch. “This avoids a complex external connection of sub-modules. With this prototype, we have achieved a decisive step towards cost-effective up-scaling and paved the way for the transfer to the industrial level.”
At Fraunhofer ISE, dye solar cell modules are manufactured with meander design. The glass frit sealing, stable over the long-term, is also applied by a screen printing process. Dye modules open up new design possibilities for building-integrated façades and other decorative applications. A short time ago, efficiencies of 7.1 percent, with respect to the active area, were reached at Fraunhofer ISE for dye solar cell modules measuring 10x10cm. The same manufacturing procedure was used for the small modules and the up-scaled modules.
Dye solar cells are photo-electrochemical solar cells. The conversion process is similar to photosynthesis. In principal, they are simple to manufacture and present a prime example for the research behind and the realization of functionalizing nano-materials. Dye solar cells are based on a nanocrystalline carrier layer made of titanium dioxide TiO2 whose surface is chemically bonded with dye molecules. A small amount of gel electrolyte is used for the transport of the carriers.
In cooperation with the Fraunhofer IAO in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer ISE developed a station for automatically filling and sealing the large area dye solar cell modules. With this apparatus, the research institute will be able to manufacture modules for future demonstration projects. It is also a decisive step towards a pilot processing line. Fraunhofer ISE is now considering plans to a spin-off a company that would produce the first demonstration systems.
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