Flexible Solar Cells Make Advances - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
News

Flexible Solar Cells Make Advances

Strides are being made in the cells' efficiency; still, they have a way to go before they're considered commercially viable.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Researchers at Wake Forest University's Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials claimed that they have made strides in improving the efficiency of organic or flexible solar cells.

Traditional silicon solar panels are heavy and bulky. They convert about 20 percent of the light that hits them to useful electrical power.

Researchers have worked to create flexible or organic solar cells that can be wrapped around surfaces or even painted onto structures. But the best scientists have been able to do is about 3 percent efficiency, until now.

Wake Forest, with the help of researchers at New Mexico State University, claimed to have achieved an efficiency rate for organic solar cells of almost 6 percent. In order to be considered a viable technology, the solar cells must be able to convert about 10 percent of the energy in sunlight to electricity.

Researchers hope to reach 10 percent by October 2006, said David Carroll, director of the nanotechnology center at Wake Forest.

Carroll said flexible, organic solar cells also offer several possibilities for military use. Most experts have estimated that flexible, solar cell technology for consumers was about a decade away, but Carroll said the new breakthrough means that consumers could be using this technology in the next five years.

Using a set of polymer coatings, researchers at Wake Forest constructed a nanophase within the polymer called a "mesostructure." The "mesostructure" changes the properties of the plastic and makes it better for collecting light. The researchers also removed the current from the polymer coating, Carroll said.

"The consumer market would be really open to having these conformal systems if you could, for instance, roll them up and put them away," said Carroll, who is also an associate professor in Wake Forest's physics department. "Imagine a group of hikers with a tent that when you unrolled the tent and put it up, it could generate its own power. Imagine if the paint on your car that is getting hot in the sun was instead converting part of that heat to recharge your battery."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

News
Becoming a Self-Taught Cybersecurity Pro
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  6/9/2021
News
Ancestry's DevOps Strategy to Control Its CI/CD Pipeline
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  6/4/2021
Slideshows
IT Leadership: 10 Ways to Unleash Enterprise Innovation
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/8/2021
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll