Ever since the very first meeting of our Solar Fiber team, we’ve been looking out for any developments in and and around photovoltaics in combination with textiles. One of the first Institutes to come to our attention was the Justis-Liebig-Universität in Giessen, Germany. Marina Toeters met Professor Dr. D. Schlettwein at a conference in Montecatini, Italy in June 2012. His presentation at the conference was titled: “Photovoltaics go Textile: Fundamental Considerations and Materials Aspects to Realize Dye-sensitized Solar Cells on Textile Electrodes.”
In February 2013, Marina visited the Giessen research group’s laboratory at IAP (Institut für Angewandte Physik). In May, she received these yarn samples made with active PV materials:
1) (silver colored rectangle) Polyamide structure with silver coating (prepared by electrochemical deposition of the silver by a collaboration partner of the university).
2) (silver colored + red colored rectangle) The same as above, but with an additional layer of ZnO on top, the ZnO is coated with the dye that collects the sunlight and gives it a reddish color.
3) Also a polyamide / silver / ZnO / dye sample, but this time as a flexible filament.
4) A flexible stainless steel structure coated with ZnO / dye. It is a gimp structure, where the two stainless steel threads are attached together with a thin stainless steel filament. One of the threads is coated with ZnO / dye, the other one is wrapped in polyethylene, so that the two stainless steel threads are not in direct contact.
This last one is very close to a full solar cell, as only the liquid (electrolyte) that is supposed to transport the photo-charge from one contact (thread) to the other is missing.
Thanks to Melanie and Professor Dr. D. Schlettwein!