Plextronics Breaks World Record for Organic Solar Cell Efficiency

organic solar cells

Try matching it up to the record in solar cell efficiency recently set by two University of Delaware scientists — 5.4% vs. 42.8% — and it certainly doesn't sound worthy of a new world record. However, there is an important caveat: the record-setting solar cell technology created by Plextronics, a Pittsburgh-based organic semiconductor startup, is organic.

Organic solar cells — made out of plastic-like polymers — are much cheaper when compared by the conventional inorganic, silicon and metal-based solar cells typically favored by the solar industry. Their one main disadvantage, of course, is their relatively low efficiency (measured as what percent of light is converted to electricity): when compared with the 20 - 40% efficiencies regularly attained by inorganic crystalline solar cells, the 5.4% efficiency sounds almost disappointing.

plexcore PV for solar cells

While their solar cells may not have the highest efficiency, Plextronics' organic cells have several potential applications that conventional cells lack — portable electronics devices and power backup, amongst other "off grid" functions. Because they are flexible, the cells could be used in clothing for on-the-go battery charging — a function several clothing manufacturers have already employed to varying degrees of success. Another advantage is the cells' low cost: they are about 5 times cheaper than conventional silicon-based solar cells — which makes them ideal candidates for developing countries' energy markets. If their estimates hold true, the cost of solar cell production may soon be driven to a viable $1/watt.

Imagine the possibilities...

Via ::Earth2Tech: Startup: Plextronics, Organic Solar Cells (blog), ::Inside Greentech: Solar goes organic (news website)

See also: ::Paint-on Solar Cells, ::Spherical Solar Cells