EXCURSION TO SOLARONIX
a company producing dye-sensitized solar cells in Aubonne / Switzerland – 24.9.2019
Solaronix is a small Swiss company, founded in 1993 by the twin brothers Andreas and Toby Meyer (T. Meyer, a former student of Prof. Michael Grätzel). The company was founded to commercialize the dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC), under the assumption that the production would be significantly cheaper than conventional silicon solar cells, which dominate the market until today. In 2013, Solaronix realised the world’s first multi-coloured and transparent Dye Solar Cell facade, which was handcrafted over three years and installed at the congress center on the EPFL campus.
Unfortunately, the company had to discover that the manufactured dye-sensitized solar cells only have a short life span (three to four years). According to Meyer, the problem arises from the W-interconnection of individual cells to a module, since cells lying in the shadow reverse their polarity and thus cause damage within the module. In silicon cells, this problem is solved by protective diodes, but according to Meyer, this is not possible in the manufacturing of DSC. Meyer sees the future of dye-sensitized cells in “low-light” products, such as the “Current Table”by Marjan van Aubel or “single cell” products, such as sensors operating in the milliwatt range. Because of the low current flowing inside the cell, the shading problem has no effect. Currently, the company sees great potential in the so-called perovskite technology. The perovskite solar cell is similar to the DSC, with perovskite crystals replacing the dye, which are much more stable. However, using perovskite, the cells are no longer transparent and tinted like the DSC.
Thanks to Toby Meyer for the insights and guided tour
text: Johanna Denecke, Leopold Seiler, Anna Maxwell, Lu Meiying