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Improved Solar Panels and Printed Electronics on the Horizon With New Discovery

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New and improved solar panels could result from the discovery of a new liquid crystal material, making printable organic solar cells better performing. University of Melbourne researchers say their discovery of the highly sought-after ‘nematic liquid crystals’ can now lead to vastly improved organic solar cell performance. Dr David Jones of the University’s School of Chemistry and Bio 21 Institute, said these cells will be easier to manufacture, with the new crystals now able to work in cells that are double in thickness on the previous limit of 200 nanometers. “We have improved the performance of this type of solar cell from around 8 per cent efficient to 9.3 per cent, finally approaching the international benchmark of 10 per cent.” It means that consumers can look forward to more competitive pricing in the solar energy sector, and according to Dr Jones, the discovery is a shot-in-the-arm for the whole organic materials sector. “The discovery is a step forward for the wider commercialization of printed organic solar cells. But more than this, could aid in the development of new materials with improved performance such as LCD screens.” Uptake of the current generation of organic solar cells has lagged behind more widespread silicon-based models, due to their comparative lack of performance even with a simplified construction via large printers.