A research team from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) in Japan is investigating the production of low-cost solar cells based on organic materials such as those used in plastic.
Traditional solar cells made from silicon are rigid and opaque. This makes then expensive with limited usage and replacement. The Japanese research team, led by Yabing Qi, have been working with transparent, flexible conductive materials named ‘Flextrodes’ which are easier to manufacture. The main component for fabricating the new Flextrodes is PET, an inexpensive and plentiful plastic used to make disposable drink bottles. The partial transparency of the new cells also means there is greater potential to place them in other locations, such as on windows.
The findings of Qi and his team were recently published in Organic Electronics. In the paper, Qi says that unlike conventional silicon-based solar cells ‘the organic materials available to make the cells are virtually limitless.’ In addition to the development of Flextrodes, the team also discovered a way to clean and restore the new cells after an extended period of storage.
As this is an emerging technology further studies will need to be undertaken to assess the scientific viability of the new cells but this exciting breakthrough could point towards the development of low-cost, organic solar cells in the near future.
(Source: Science Daily)