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MIT Develops Printable Solar Cell, Solar Impulse may become first Solar Airplane

Solar Impulse Solar Airplane

MIT researchers are busy perfecting a state of the art solar cell printed on a sheet of paper. The process involves depositing specific inks onto a flimsy sheet of paper. Once printed, the sheet of paper can be connected to several wires and can generate power for electronics like alarm clocks. This process eliminates the need for hazardous chemicals and high temperatures typically used when developing solar cells. Currently, the research team at MIT is working towards increasing the efficiency of the solar cells in order to make solar cell development more affordable for mainstream use.

In a recent review of the past year in the solar energy industry, experts agree that change is going to come. Despite setbacks like the bankruptcy of Solyndra, the solar energy sector continues to see growth. In fact, the Solar Energy Industries Association reported a 69% rate of growth on photovoltaic systems in the second quarter of 2011. Many experts, like Ravi Viswanathan (NEA) agree that the solar energy industry is transitioning into a space where this type of renewable energy will become more affordable for residents and businesses. Viswanathan recommends that those who continue to, “weather the storm,” will see the tangible benefits of solar energy.

The Solar Impulse is currently being developed to become the first plane to fly around the world completely powered by solar energy. Holding over 11,000 solar cells and with just enough room for one pilot, the Solar Impulse will hopefully circumnavigate the world in 2014. While not the fastest or largest plane in the sky, once flown, the Solar Impulse will pave the way for larger solar airplanes able to transport travelers and cargo.