The future of plastic solar cells is looking hotter after scientists in the US and Korea baked them to a crispy 150 degrees Celsius. The cells reached up to 7% efficiency much higher than any plastic cell to date. Normally plastic cells only convert about 5% of light into electricity with 8% as the target to match low efficiency silicon solar cells on the market today.
Scientists from the US and Korea found that the baking process boosts efficiency since it causes crystal patterns to form in the plastic that allows electrons to move more freely. While still not up to the 8% mark, they are hopeful that they will reach 10% efficiency.
So why plastic? It is light, cheap and flexible, three things that silicon cells are not. Silicon solar cells perform at a much higher level, up to 40% efficiency, but their limitations will allow plastic solar cells to be used in low cost, light-weight applications.
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