Researchers at Wake Forest University have announced they they have created plastic solar cells with an efficiency of 6%. Researchers say that have achieved record efficiency for organic or flexible, plastic solar cells by creating “nano-filaments” within light absorbing plastic, similar to the veins in tree leaves. This allows for the use of thicker absorbing layers in the devices, which capture more of the sun’s light
Efficient plastic solar cells are extremely desirable because they are inexpensive and light weight, especially in comparison to traditional silicon solar panels. Traditional solar panels are heavy and bulky and convert about 12 percent of the light that hits them to useful electrical power. Researchers have worked for years to create flexible, or “conformal,” organic solar cells that can be wrapped around surfaces, rolled up or even painted onto structures.
Three percent was the highest efficiency ever achieved for plastic solar cells until 2005 when David Carroll, director of the Wake Forest nanotechnology center, and his research group announced they had come close to reaching 5% efficiency. Now, a little more than a year later, Carroll said his group has surpassed the 6% mark.
More Info: Wake Forest University