The US Army sees a green solution
to its portable power problems. The practicality of Konarka's
plastic solar power technology gives it an edge over the competition. Because their technology is printed on the nanoscale and applied to a plastic energy conducting polymer material, it is flexible, lightweight, inexpensive, and can be almost any color (camouflage in this case). Designers should take a cue from the army. By incorporating color and design in solar power products, they could be used on more then just the roof or out of sight locations, but be a primary element of housing and environment design. Konarka agrees, and has some examples of what it intends to produce for the commercial market.
Co-Founder and winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry; Dr. Alan Heeger
from the University of California, Santa Barbara, helped pioneer the research of semiconducting polymers which make this technology possible. By mimicking nature, and operating on the nanoscale, Konarka's technology is a revolution in solar power design. From their website:
"Konarka is focused on the development and commercialization of "third-generation" cells that are lightweight, flexible and more versatile than previous generations of products. Konarka's chemistry-based cells represent a new breed of coatable, plastic, flexible photovoltaics that can be used in many applications where traditional photovoltaics can't compete. Konarka has already built functioning, full-size production cells that have achieved close to eight percent efficiency and expects to exceed 10 percent in the coming months. This breakthrough puts Konarka on par with, or in some cases exceeding, second-generation materials, but at lower cost and with more options in the product form factor."
With new possibilities in nano-manufacturing, improvement of polymer chemistries, and the large diversity of form factor, this technology adds up to an incredible future for Konarka, and for solar power. ::Konarka [by T. McGee]