Jiwen Liu is a researcher at Wake Forest Univ. where the plastic solar cell is being developed.

Jiwen Liu is a researcher at Wake Forest Univ. where the plastic solar cell is being developed.


In an announcement from the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Material, the team says it has pushed the efficiency of plastic solar cells to more than 6% by creating nanofilaments inside light-absorbing plastic, similar to veins in tree leaves. This allows for thicker layers, which capture more sunlight.

Efficient plastic solar cells would be less expensive and lighter, especially compared to silicon solar panels. For commercial use, solar cells should convert about 8% of the energy in sunlight to electricity. Wake Forest researchers hope to reach 10% next year.