https://www.epo.org/en/node/olga-malinkiewicz-and-team

​​Olga Malinkiewicz and team​

​Printable and flexible perovskite solar cell​​

Category
SMEs
Technical field
Renewable energy
Company
​​Saule Technologies​
​​Printable perovskite solar cells, developed by Olga Malinkiewicz and her team, could boost global renewable energy generation as a lightweight and flexible method of harnessing solar energy.​

Winners of the European Inventor Award and Popular Prize 2024

As the world’s most rapidly expanding renewable energy source, increasing solar power capacity is central to the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, where renewable energy sources should comprise 45% of the EU’s total energy consumption by 2030. Perovskite solar cells, an alternative to traditional silicon-based solar panels, can absorb a wider range of the sun’s wavelengths, making them more efficient at converting light into electricity. During testing, perovskite cells achieved a light-to-electricity conversion of 25.8%, compared to silicon-based cells, which achieved 21%.  

The design is loosely based on an OLED (organic light emitting device), which comprises thin layers of organic film placed between two thin films of conductive electrodes. For Malinkiewicz and her team at Saule Technologies, producing these cells is also cost-effective, as perovskite is dissolved in a solvent and lightly coated onto the film using an inkjet printer.

The flexible, lightweight perovskite-coated polymer puts less structural pressure on buildings than solar panels, where a square metre of the perovskite solar cell can be held with two fingers, while similar-sized silicon panels weigh between 20 and 30 kilograms. This has opened up incredible commercial possibilities, from energy-generating sun blinds to plans for solar-powered consumer electronics like keyboards and mobile phones.

The pursuit of perovskite

As a PhD student in organic electronics at the University of Valencia, Olga Malinkiewicz initially focused on the commercial application of technology that generates light. She attended a technological conference where she discovered the potential of perovskite, and soon shifted her focus to methods of perovskite solar cell production. Her tenacity led to co-founding Saule Technologies, where Malinkiewicz supervises a team of 60 scientists and engineers as they unlock new avenues for perovskite solar cell production. As the company grows, it uses several forms of protection for its intellectual property, ranging from patents to trade secrets for the ink recipe.

On the trial and error process she undertook to achieve this success, Malinkiewicz says, “If you do not try, then the question ‘What if?’ will stay with you. It’s better to try and to fail than not to try. I was dying inside because I was so scared to get out of the lab and try, but I did, and then I managed to somehow do it. That was the best decision of my life.”

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