Instructables
Picture of solar cell (flexible)

So I've been experimenting with this new type of solar cell known as a dye sesitized solar cells which are basically two layers of a powder stained with a dye. The first layer is composed of titanium dioxide stained with anthosynin dye (raspberry juice), forming the p type semiconductor that goes on top in your standard silicon cells. The second layer is a layer of carbon coated with iodine for the dye, this forms the n type semiconductor. In an earlier instructable I made another cell using two glass slides for the shell that the two semiconductors are sandwiched between, but I later learned that it dosent need to be glass it can be plastic so I tried to make one with two pieces of plastic which I got from a container that once held deli meat, it's perfectly clear so I decided to use it for my cell. So I assembled another one and it worked, the best part about it is that I was able to bend it with ease and it still produced electricity. The link to my earlier instructable is here http://www.instructables.com/id/homemade-solar-ce...

I hope you like this, be sure to subscribe to me for many more instructables like this one coming soon, also if you like this then be sure to favorite it. If you have any questions or comments then be sure to leave them below, I'm very good at responding and if I don't right away then just be patient and I will respond to you soon. Please be sure to vote for me, thank you.

 
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Step 1:

Picture of
20140612_184820.jpg

tools:

  1. WIre cutter
  2. Spoon
  3. Scissors
  4. Lighter
  5. Tape
  6. A small container
  7. A tea candle

Materials:

  1. Liquid iodine
  2. Sun screen (SPF 90)
  3. Two pieces of plastic cut as shone
  4. Two pieces of aluminum cut as shone
  5. Raspberries, blue berries, or black berries

Step 2:

Picture of

take the first aluminum piece and glue it to the first piece of plastic, this is what our p type semiconductor will be made on

chenying22 days ago

Is the liquid iodine just any general iodine that can be purchased from a store?

Pure Carbon (author)  chenying21 days ago
I don't think it can be found in any store, the iodine I used was from an old first aid kit which consists of mostly alcohol. You could probably get that online.

Hi, I tried to make the solar cell but things didnt really turn out as well as it should have. For your sunscreen what is the breakdown of chemicals in percentage? I bought sunscreen that has TiO2 and ZnO2 in it, not sure if the zinc oxide is affecting it.

Thanks for your reply.

Another question I have is the plastic pieces you used conductive? Your description says you used deli meat packaging, but the plastic in the picture seem to be thicker than deli meat packaging.

Also awesome project, I'm really excited to build this solar cell. Thanks for the ible!

Pure Carbon (author)  chenying19 days ago
I was referring to the hard plastic tub that deli meat comes in, it's about as thick as the plastic that milk jugs are made of. I'm not sure if they sell them in that kind of packaging where you live, so I would like to apologise for any confusion. It doesn't need to be from a plastic deli tub just as long as it is clear, flexible, and sturdy. It does not need to be conductive because of the aluminum strips, In Silicon cells these are called fingers. When i made this I wanted to see if making it more like the industrial cells would Increase the power and as it turns out I was right. Thank you for commenting.
Tanmay Das4 months ago

Great instructable.
One question
You are using berries, how long will it last?

Pure Carbon (author)  Tanmay Das4 months ago

Thank you for your comment, i'm not entirely sure how long it will last, but I do know that if you were to put an epoxy sealant on the edges it would make the cell air tight preventing the decay of the anthosynin dye. Mine is still running strong after a few days, if that tell you anything. I hope I answered your question, please be sure to vote for me, thank you.

Thanks,
Blueberries are found plenty where I live, so I am thinking about making a nice array for myself.

Pure Carbon (author)  Tanmay Das4 months ago

sounds awesome.

MamaOmom4 months ago
Hi, I am very interested in your project. Is it better to use aluminiumfoil or aluminium from a can ?
And where can i get the Iodine ?
Pure Carbon (author)  MamaOmom4 months ago

thank you for your comment. Aluminum foil, because an aluminum can isn't pure aluminum, when a can is made they add Al(OH)3 other wise known as Alum powder. The iodine that I got was from an old military first aid kit, but here is a link to a web site that sells the same thing. Please be sure to vote for me, thank you.

nqtronix4 months ago

Could you do me a favor? Please hook up a 1k resitor (or 10k or something inbetween) and measure the voltage across it and the current flowing through it. This will give us a rough estimation how much power your cell produces.

Pure Carbon (author)  nqtronix4 months ago

I would love to to that, once I get a multimeter. I'm new to electronics, so I must ask, why do I need a resistor?

You need a resistor to apply a constant load to the solar cell. Most people measure the voltage of their solar DIY project without a load, but if there is no current flow the power generated is 0, no matter how high the voltage is. To understand why lets take a look a the formula to calculate power:

U (voltage) x I (current) = P (power)

If there is no current flow you have 0 current so

x (any voltage) x 0 = P <=>* 0 = P => no power generated.

And a sandard resistor has another huge benifit compared to any other load (lamps, LEDs, etc.): If you know the voltage agross the resistor and its value you can calculate the current flowing trough it with "ohms law":

R (resistance) = U / I <=> I = U / R

Combined with the first formula the power can be calculated as follows:

P = U (measured) x U / R (calculation for current) = U² / R

Pretty simple, huh?

One thing to keep in mind is that the generated power will not only vary with the amount of sunlight but also with the current generated. This is why I reccomend you to try a 1k resistor first as it only drains 1mA @ 1V which results in 1mW power generated. 1mW doesn't sound like much, but it can be enough to run an atmega88 (the arduino chip) @ 1Mhz if the circuit surrounding it is designed properly. You may want to try out different resistor values to give us a rough estimation how much power we can expect.

*if you don't know allready '<=>' is the sign for transforming one equalation into an other, just like the = for the values inside the equalation itself.

Pure Carbon (author)  nqtronix4 months ago

wow, I will certainly use this as a reference when I do my test, thank you for this interesting lesson on calculating power, I hope I can get your vote. Thank you once again

(You allready got my vote a day ago ;) )

Pure Carbon (author)  nqtronix4 months ago

Oh, well thank you so much.

Very cool! Have you measured the output with a voltmeter or anything?

I don't have a multimeter, but if I had to guess it would be surround one volt because the led I hooked it up to runs on one volt.

rimar20004 months ago

It looks awesomely simple, thanks for sharing.

Pure Carbon (author)  rimar20004 months ago

thank you.