Flexible films for photovoltaics
What do potato chips and thin-film solar cells have in common? Both need films that protect them from air and water vapor: the chips in order to stay fresh and crisp; the solar cells in order to have a useful life that is as long as possible. In most cases, glass is used to protect the active layers of the solar cells from environmental influences. Dr. Klaus Noller from the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising explains the advantages of a plastic film: “The films are considerably lighter – and flexible. They make new production processes possible that enable significant reductions in the cost of manufacturing a photovoltaic module.” Instead of working with individual glass plates, the solar cells could be printed onto a plastic film and then encapsulated with the barrier film: photovoltaic modules on a roll.