Developing the flexible electronics of the future

[Music plays] (Fiona Scholes) Hi, I’m Fiona. I work here at CSIRO in Industrial Innovation and one of the things that we work in is Flexible Electronics. So these are the Flexible Electronics Laboratories and here we do research into OLEDs, that’s Organic Light Emitting Diodes and also printed solar cells and one is really the opposite of the other. So with OLEDs we put in electricity and get out light but with Solar Cells obviously we put in light and we get out electricity. Printed solar cells are really different to conventional rooftop silicon solar cells. Unlike the big black sort of rectangles that you see on the top of rooftops across Australia and the world printed solar cells are flexible. They’re lightweight. They’re printed onto plastic in more or less the same way that we would print, say, a plastic banknote. Because printed solar cells are flexible you can roll them up and this means that you can use them for mobile applications. So for example camping on remote locations, perhaps in window furnishings like roller blinds and because they’re semitransparent you can use them on windows. So if you put up a normal solar panel in a window it’s not a window anymore it’s a wall but if you put a printed solar cell in a window you’ve got a tinted window that also generates electricity. (Regine Chantler) And because it’s also lightweight that means that they can be used for portable applications. So, for example, they can be embedded into a backpack. They could be embedded into mobile phones and things like that. This sort of line uses the technology by taking advantage of the lightweight, the transparency and the flexibility of flexible solar and this is one way of taking advantage of the window space and still harvesting energy from the sun. (Fiona Scholes) The CSIRO team have built up our capacity to print solar cells by working in collaboration with our friends at Monash University and University of Melbourne. Now when it comes to efficiency, they aren’t yet as efficient as conventional silicon solar panels but we are getting there. There’s new solar inks that have been developed just in the last couple of years that are proving to be almost as good as conventional silicon. So far we’ve proved that on very tiny printed solar cells and our task now is to actually scale that technology up. So an OLED is basically a certain type of LED light but instead of being based on silicon and other inorganic materials it’s based on organic inks. So very similar to the organic solar cells in fact and what they enable you to create is this wall of light because you print the OLED ink across the surface and it’s that whole surface that produces light and illuminates in this really beautiful diffuse glow. We’re starting to see O.L.E.D.s or OLEDs all over the place. They started showing up on the back of our cameras as little screens and on our phones. They’re also fantastic for lighting, biomedical applications and of course the all elusive roll up display. Our appetite for energy is continuing to rise and of course we need to find ways to use less energy. We’d love to create a future where we see printed solar cells all over the place, lining the walls of our buildings, the rooftops of our houses, the windows of our skyscrapers, the rooftops of our cars. Solar energy everywhere for everyone. [Music plays]

2 comments on “Developing the flexible electronics of the future”

  1. Guy Gadbois says:

    I'd mop floors at CSIRO just to be around these amazing folks and their amazing tech

  2. Tony Corin says:

    When you say organic, what do you mean?

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