### idealog.co.nz 28 Sept 2011 at 3:39 pm
Polymers could be key in affordable uptake of solar in homes and office buildings
By Sustain Team
We’re used to seeing massive solar panels strapped to the roofs of houses and office buildings, but a Victoria University lecturer says a process that incorporates solar cells into roofing materials could serve us better. According to Dr Justin Hodgkiss, these cells could provide all the energy used in a home or office building in New Zealand, at a more affordable option. Hodgkiss, a lecturer at the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, said conventional solar cells use silicon to absorb light and convert the energy into electricity. But processing silicon into a working solar cell is very expensive, with the high costs limiting the uptake of the technology by consumers. Hodgkiss is one of a number of local and international scientists who are investigating an alternative option of making solar cells from polymers or plastics. They are building on the work of Nobel Prize winning New Zealand scientist and Victoria alumnus Alan MacDiarmid who discovered the electronic conductivity of polymers. Hodgkiss said the major advantage of using polymers is that they can be dissolved to make an ink and then printed in sheets.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr