Solar cells for self-sustainable intelligent packaging†
Nowadays there is a strong demand for intelligent packaging to provide comfort, welfare and security to owners, vendors and consumers by allowing them to know the contents and interact with the goods. This is of particular relevance for low cost, fully disposable and recyclable products, such as identification tags and medical diagnostic tests, and devices for analysis and/or quality control in food and pharmaceutical industries. However, the increase of complexity and processing capacity requires continuous power and can be addressed by the combined use of a small disposable battery, charged by a disposable solar cell, which is able to work under indoor lighting. Herein, we show a proof-of-concept of the pioneering production of thin-film amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) solar cells with an efficiency of 4% by plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition (PECVD) on liquid packaging cardboard (LPC), which is commonly used in the food and beverage industries. Such accomplishment put us one step closer to this revolution by providing a flexible, renewable and extremely cheap autonomous energy packaging system. Moreover, such Si thin films take advantage of their good performance at low-light levels, which also makes them highly desirable for cheap mobile indoor applications.