Innovations  

Ultra-thin, Elastic Solar Cells Widen Building Potential

Thinner than spider silk, new solar cells developed by international scientists could transform green building
 The solar cells can be wrapped around a single hair
 
 

A team of Australian and Japanese researchers have unveiled an innovative organic solar cell design that is ten times smaller than the thinnest cells on the market.

By attaching the solar cells to elastomers, the solar cells can be made flexible and stretchable, opening a wide range of applications in clothing, shrinking electronics, and even the construction industry.

Typical solar energy systems utilize glass-based cells that are rigid, easily damaged, and fairly inefficient in terms of required space and energy production. With elastic, razor-thin solar cells able to create bendable and highly efficient solar power-producing film could be incorporated into building design to reduce stresses on urban infrastructure and lower carbon emissions.

The lightness and flexibility of these new cells also make them ideal for incorporation directly into electronics and other utilities, including LED lighting.

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For higher power-production, the solar cells can be enlarged, creating soft cell layers that offer increased resiliency and design possibilities, in that solar generation will no longer by confined to flat, raised rooftops.

Practical applications are still five years away, say researchers.

Read more about the innovation at PhysOrg.com

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