By Isabella Kaminski

The Victorian Government Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) have awarded AUS$3.5 million (£2.4m) in funding to the Organic Solar Cells Project at the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute.

Scientists from the University of Melbourne in Victoria, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Monash University have produced flexible plastic solar cells printed with a light sensitive ink to convert sunlight into energy. The new grant will allow the development of new materials and devices for the cell printing process, working towards the production of inexpensive mass-produced solar panels.

The researchers have teamed up with industry partners including BlueScope Steel, Innovia Films and Robert Bosch South East Asia to expand the activities of the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC), with the aim of producing prototype solar cells printed on plastic and steel substrates within three years.

Dr David Jones from the Bio21 Institute and Programme Coordinator at VICOSC, says: “The grant recognises the viability of this new technology and will help to make it commercially available.

“The new materials will be formulated into inks and delivered into our printing programme, speeding up the technology transfer. The ability to deliver new materials and device architectures into a fully developed printing programme is one of the strengths of the current programme.”