Stretchable Solar Cells

Yvonne Carts-Powell

Researchers have developed organic solar cells that are not only flexible, but stretchable.

Scatterings imageRumpled film allows an organic solar cell to stretch by almost 30 percent while maintaining its power efficiency. The width of the image is about 0.5 mm.

At the AAAS Annual Meeting last week in Washington D.C., Zhenan Bao of Stanford University described organic solar cells that are not only flexible, but stretchable (Seminar on Frontiers in Organic Materials for Information Processing, Energy, and Sensors). The cells can be stretched multiple times, and, amazingly, the efficiency does not change. The ability to stretch allows photovoltaics to be used in applications that require attaching to cloth or skin—or as part of a synthetic skin-like material. Bao's presentation focused on a number of skin-like abilities that are possible using organic films. Photovoltaic cells on the surface could be used to power sensors in such "super skin."

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