Plastic solar cells are developed by the University of Chicago for portable electronic devices.
The prototype, a cell measuring eight square inches (50 square centimeters), is expected to achieve 8 percent efficiency and to have a lifetime of at least three years, according to a press release issued by the University of Chicago.
New materials with higher efficiencies are the key in the industry, it said. Plastic solar cells are behind traditional solar-cell technology in terms of the efficiency that it can produce right now.
The invention, a new semiconductor material called PTB1, converts sunlight into electricity. The active layer of PTB1 is a mere 100 nanometers thick, the width of approximately 1,000 atoms. Synthesizing even small amounts of the material is a time-consuming, multi-step process.
The university licensed the patent rights to the technology to Solarmer last September.
An advantage of the Chicago technology is its simplicity. Solarmer has entered into a sponsored research agreement with the university to provide additional support for further research. - Xinhua