Indoor energy harvesting is not a new idea, but it has been difficult to achieve. Think of all the direct and indirect sunlight that enters buildings everyday, and then find a way to collect that solar energy and convert it into useful electricity. That was the challenge faced by SolarPrint, an Irish technology developer, which claims to have found an efficient, practical solution with its third-generation dye-sensitised solar (DSS) cell technology.

DSS cells can be printed on a variety of inexpensive thin-film substrates, such as plastics, metal or glass, that can be affixed to indoor or outdoor surfaces as large as walls or as small as laptops and mobile phones. The dye-sensitive technology mimics photosynthesis in plants. It converts photon energy to chemical energy into electricity. Cells are tuned to capture direct and indirect light despite the angle of reception to create free electrons in the DSS nano material, which is inexpensive to manufacture compared to traditional silicon photovoltaic (PV) panels.

SolarPrint claims DSS produces power output higher than conventional semiconductor PV materials, such as amorphous silicon thin-films in low, diffused and indoor ambient light. Company research has shown that DSS can generate up to 20 percent more electricity over conventional technology because DSS can be tuned to collect more visible light, which is the dominant light source that exists indoors.

“Many companies are focusing their efforts on DSS technology for outdoor applications, and the potential is huge. We are shipping sample products for demo testing to those who are looking for higher performance than silicon-based PV, less angle dependency and much better compatibility with wireless technology. We’ve shipped to about 15 companies worldwide, 80 percent of them U.S.-based, and there are orders in the pipeline for many more,” said Roy Horgan, business development director of SolarPrint.

For more information, visit www.solarprint.ie.