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2.5 Printed solar cells for small remote instruments

Principal investigator

Mario Leclerc

Co-Investigators

Paul Jonhson, Jean-François Morin, Simon Thibault

Collaborator outside U. Laval

Ian Hill

Project summary

The project proposed herein aimed at developing a printed energy device that could be installed on small remote devices requiring low electrical power such as optical sensors, imaging tools and communication devices. The purpose of this technology will be to supply energy on-demand without the use of heavy battery that required frequent recharge and on-site maintenance. To achieve this goal, a team of two materials scientists (M Leclerc and JF Morin, Department of Chemistry, ULaval), one computational chemist (P Johnson, Department of Chemistry, ULaval), one physicist (S Thibault, Departement of Physics, Physics engineering and Optics, ULaval), one external collaborator (Ian Hill, Dalhousie) and one industrial partner (ICI - College Ahuntsic) will team up to develop and integrate all the parts of the device. Leclerc and Morin will develop light-harvesting semiconducting materials, based on the design and calculations made by Johnson, and proceed to their integration into solar cells. Thibault will develop concentrators to increase sunlight harvesting efficiency.

Hill will be responsible for the prototyping of the solar cells while ICI will print all the components of the device onto flexible substrate, including the batteries to store the energy produced by the solar cells. The printing technology allows fabrication of very thin, lightweight and flexible devices that could fit any electrical devices geometry while being unaffected by mechanical deformations. These are all significant advantages over the classical silicon-based solar cells technology whose heavy weight, brittleness and poor mechanical properties make such devices inappropriate for applications in harsh environmental conditions like those found in the Arctic.