Sustainable Cities - Scott Watkins


I'm Scott Watkins and I'm working to make solar panels using new processes where we can print them.

This enables us to make energy generation sources that can be low cost, lightweight and used in ways that we haven't even imagined yet.

The sun provides a huge amount of energy for us.

In fact more energy hits the surface of the earth in one hour than we consume in a whole year and by developing new sorts of solar panels we can generate electricity by having them on surfaces in all aspects of our lives.

Printable solar cells mean using things like this, a printer, to make a solar panel that generates electricity.

It's exciting because this is a way of making these solar panels that's really cheap, really easy and can be done really quickly and the product that we get out at the end is flexible, light weight and can be different shapes and colours.

All of this means that we can use solar power in ways that are different to what we can currently do with existing hard, rigid silicon solar panels.

So this is our smallest printer and what we can do on this is print roles that are about 10cm wide.

What we've got here is a solution of the polymers that absorb the light in the printed solar cell.

So we take this solution, this ink and put it into the tray that's inside the printer.

Then we run the printer, and the printer coats this ink onto the plastic and that's the first step in making the solar cell.

So we take the rolls from the printer that we just saw that have the polymer ink printed down onto them and then we bring these and install them on this printer here.

What this printer does is puts down the top electrode and that's a silver grid and we can see that silver grid printed on here on the finished solar cell.

So this is one of our printed solar cells that we have put some copper tape on the ends to act as the connector.

What I'm doing here Is taking this printed solar cell and plugging into it – the positive and negative electrodes.

We will then take our cell, and put it under our light and we can measure how much power it's producing.

So what we're doing here is we're measuring how much current the solar cell is producing.

Even under this room light we are still producing a little bit of power but when we turn the solar simulator on that simulates the real sunlight.

We see a big jump in the amount of current that we're producing.

One view of a city of the future would be that every surface is generating some electricity.

So that's the windows, that's the tops of the buildings, the bus shelters, the roofs of the cars and the bags and the clothing that people are carrying around and wearing all of us have the potential to be generating that power and having things that generate that power around us.

That's the vision of the future.

About this Video

Sustainable Cities - Scott Watkins
Length: 03:13