Unique solar cell will drive energy-efficient technology

2019-10-09

Christina Paun and Jacinto Sá co-founders of Peafowl Solar Power.
Photo: Cecilia Tilli.

Sustainability and aesthetics. These are two things that stimulate Peafowl Solar Power in the development of a unique solar cell that can be made completely transparent and be integrated into other materials.

The company was founded by a group that includes researchers Jacinto Sá and Cristina Paun, and is a spin-off from the Department of Chemistry at the Ångström Laboratory. The development of the solar cells is based in part on the research for which Jacinto Sá is responsible.

The solar cells consist of plasmonic nanoparticles. They are very thin and can be made completely transparent. Unlike other solar cells, they are integrated into other materials through printing. The aim is for them to be able to power technology that is energy-efficient and that works without cables and batteries, or to extend the operating time of batteries.

The company is the first in the world to use plasmonic nanoparticles as light absorbers.

“It’s really exciting! The field is so new and there is still a lot that research doesn't know about the material,” says Jacinto Sá.

Right now, the efficiency of these solar cells is nowhere near that of the most common solar cells, silicon solar cells. But, Peafowl Solar Power’s solar cells offer a number of advantages. The aim is not to be like a regular solar cell and generate energy that is fed into a power grid. The aim is to instead convert light – both sunlight and indoor light – into electric current for devices that are not connected to the power grid.

“The great potential lies in the flexibility, environmental benefits and aesthetics. Our solar cells are integrated into other solutions. They are made of environmentally friendly and non-toxic substances. Moreover, the manufacturing process itself is environmentally friendly – something that can’t be said of all solar cell manufacturing. And since they are transparent and can be made invisible, they are a good choice when aesthetic values are important.”

Testing currently under way includes whether the solar cells can drive window company ChromoGenics’ dynamic glass with controllable heat and light penetration. ChromoGenics is also a spin-off company from the Ångström Laboratory.

“We find it really interesting to work with ChromoGenics, particularly because of their experience of transitioning from research to industrial production,” says Jacinto Sá.

The transition from research to business thinking has been a challenge.

“One of my major drivers is creating sustainable solutions. We need to completely change our energy supply to save humanity. But, when meeting with an investor it is also important to be viewed as a serious business partner. We got help with this from UU Innovation and UIC.”

Support for business development and investment

  • UU Innovation provided support in analyses of business opportunities and UIC has since contributed support in developing business deals, with networks and the knowledge necessary to be able to scale up and reach an international market. Peafowl Solar Power was also one of 17 projects that were awarded the distinction Attractive Innovation Project 2018 by UU Innovation.
  • In 2018, the European consortium EIT InnoEnergy invested in the development of the unique solar cells. In 2019, private investors and Almi invested a total of SEK 5 million.

Read more about Peafowl Solar Power on the company's webpage.

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