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T3DP, a California-based startup developing 3D printing technology, has applied its patented volumetric 3D printing technique to build perovskite-based solar panels, which can double the amount of energy harnessed from the sun.
Building on a Stanford University study titled, Scaffold-reinforced perovskite compound solar cells, this volumetric 3D printing method cures objects in a single step, rather than layer by layer. Daniel Clark, the principle inventor of the technology and founder of T3DP, tells 3D Printing Industry, “We have literature from my patent from 2014 for 3D printed solar energy that pre-dates the Stanford study, where we emulate the macro of a fly’s eye. The Stanford article was very useful for us to expand our research to new horizons.”
Perovskite - Ural - Mountains - Russia - Properties
Perovskite, first discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia, has superconductive properties. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
The future of solar panels?
Perovskites - Titanium - Crystals - Properties - Years
Perovskites are calcium titanium oxide crystals with superconductive properties. In recent years, this material has generated a lot of interest and is considered by some to be the future of solar cells. Already researchers from various institutions are exploring the potential of perovskites to give us high energy solar cells. However, due to the fragility of the material, the manufacturability of perovskites has proved difficult.
Clark explains, “Perovskite is very scalable now that the manufacturing bottleneck has been solved. Perovskite’s consistency is somewhat similar to table salt, so it needs the scaffold sub-cells to hold it in place for longevity.”
Clark - Panel - T3DP - Fly - Hexagon
According to Clark, the 3D printed solar panel made by T3DP is inspired by a fly. “We copper plated the hexagon scaffold that is an exact replica of a fly’s eye so that the electricity can run directly through the scaffold to create a truly decentralized solar design that routes electricity in parallel,” he said.
This is in contrast to the solar panels currently employed in industry, which...
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