What if you could walk into your local hardware store and buy a cheap solar panel to hang on your wall? That may not be such a far-fetched idea according to scientists at the UCLA Henri Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. A team of researchers has designed a new polymer (plastic) with greater sunlight absorption and conversion capabilities than any polymer seen before.
The key to the increased capabilities is the substitution of a silicon atom for a carbon atom in the backbone of the polymer. The substitution led the UCLA researchers to reach a 5.6 efficiency rate— an accomplishment for single-layer low-band-gap polymers.
Of course, other non-polymer solar cells have higher efficiency rates. But plastic has a distinct advantage—price. Polymers, which are already used in products such as pipes, insulators, and toys, are much cheaper to produce than silicon solar cells.
So it isn’t a complete pipe dream to think that you may be plastering solar cells all over any available surface in the next 5 to 10 years.
Photo Credit: UCLA
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Autonomous Drones for Better Farming
I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...