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Cheap, plastic solar cells may be on the horizon, thanks to new technology developed by UC Berkeley, LBNL chemists
28 March 2002

By Bob Sanders, Media Relations

Berkeley - University of California, Berkeley, chemists have found a way to make cheap plastic solar cells flexible enough to paint onto any surface and potentially able to provide electricity for wearable electronics or other low-power devices.

The group's first crude solar cells have achieved efficiencies of 1.7 percent, far less than the 10 percent efficiencies of today's standard commercial photovoltaics. The best solar cells, which are very expensive semiconductor laminates, convert, at most, 35 percent of the sun's energy into electricity.

"Our efficiency is not good enough yet by about a factor of 10, but this technology has the potential to do a lot better," said A. Paul Alivisatos, professor of chemistry at UC Berkeley and a member of the Materials Science Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "There is a pretty clear path for us to take to make this perform much better."

Alivisatos and his co-authors, graduate student Wendy U. Huynh and post-doctoral fellow Janke J. Dittmer, report their development in the March 29 issue of Science.

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