Thin Film Silicon Photovoltaic Cells on Paper for Flexible Indoor Applications

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The present development of non-wafer-based photovoltaics (PV) allows supporting thin film solar cells on a wide variety of low-cost recyclable and flexible substrates such as paper, thereby extending PV to a broad range of consumer-oriented disposable applications where autonomous energy harvesting is a bottleneck issue. However, their fibrous structure makes it challenging to fabricate good-performing inorganic PV devices on such substrates. The advances presented here demonstrate the viability of fabricating thin film silicon PV cells on paper coated with a hydrophilic mesoporous layer. Such layer can not only withstand the cells production temperature (150 C), but also provide adequate paper sealing and surface finishing for the cell's layers deposition. The substances released from the paper substrate are continuously monitored during the cell deposition by mass spectrometry, which allows adapting the procedures to mitigate any contamination from the substrate. In this way, a proof-of-concept solar cell with 3.4% cell efficiency (41% fill factor, 0.82 V open-circuit voltage and 10.2 mA cm-2 short-circuit current density) is attained, opening the door to the use of paper as a reliable substrate to fabricate inorganic PV cells for a plethora of indoor applications with tremendous impact in multi-sectorial fields such as food, pharmacy and security.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3592-3598
Number of pages7
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • disposable electronics
  • flexible electronics
  • paper substrates
  • photovoltaics
  • thin film silicon


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