News & AnalysisSolar Energy

Outlook Brightens for Plastic Solar Cells

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Science  15 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6027, pp. 293
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6027.293

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For years the efficiency of polymer-based solar cells scraped along at a feeble 3% to 5%. But things have improved markedly over the past 2 years. In early April, Mitsubishi Chemical reportedly set a new efficiency record, producing organic solar cells with a 9.2% conversion efficiency. Meanwhile, three other companies—Konarka Technologies, Solarmer Energy Inc., and Heliatek—are now reporting cells with efficiencies greater than 8%. Many researchers in the field are confident that the figure could soon top 10% and possibly reach 15%.