Polymer solar (plastic) cells are more affordable and flexible than conventional silicon solar cells.
Polymer solar cells could be a major game changer for renewable technologies. The results of research conducted by scientists from the Universities of Sheffield and Cambridge suggest that cheaper and more efficient solar cells are on the horizon.
The study showed that when complex mixtures of molecules in solution are spread onto a surface, like varnishing a table-top, the different molecules separate to the top and bottom of the layer in a way that maximizes the efficiency of the resulting solar cell. (Source: Physorg.com)
"Our results give important insights into how ultra-cheap solar energy panels for domestic and industrial use can be manufactured on a large scale. Rather than using complex and expensive fabrication methods to create a specific semiconductor nanostructure, high volume printing could be used to produce nanoscale (60 nanometers) films of solar cells that are over a thousand times thinner than the width of a human hair. These films could then be used to make cost-effective, light and easily transportable plastic solar cell devices such as solar panels." said Dr. Andrew Parnell of the University of Sheffield.
The technology for manufacturing these solar cells is similar to the roll-to-roll printing used for making newspapers and paper products. This method is much simpler and cheaper than the complex process of creating silicon panels. The polymer panels are only 60 nanometers thick or 1/200th the thickness of Saran Wrap!