Plastic solar cells are coming soon to a portable gadget near you thanks to University of Chicago researchers and Solarmer Energy. Solarmer’s prototype plastic cell measures 8 square inches and is expected to have 8 percent efficiency as well as a three-year lifespan. Until now, plastic solar cells have only been able to reach 5 to 6 percent efficiency.
The key to the Solarmer cell’s increased efficiency is a semiconducting material dubbed PTB1 that converts sunlight into electricity. PTB1’s active layer is only 100 nanometers thick (the width of 1,000 atoms).
Solarmer expects to have a commercial-grade prototype ready later this year.
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