PerspectiveMaterials Science

Getting Moore from Solar Cells

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Science  02 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6107, pp. 625-626
DOI: 10.1126/science.1230283

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Biological organisms, when faced with a difficult environment, take advantage of the process of mutation. Beneficial mutations can help to optimize a known survival strategy or even reveal a new one. In solar cell research, a similar process is occurring. Solar cells must continue to improve in efficiency and cost if they are to thrive as a viable energy technology. Through the implementation of variations on known device architectures, “mutant” solar cells are leading not only to important incremental improvements but also to surprising new approaches. On page 643 of this issue, Lee et al. (1) demonstrate an example of the latter, introducing a new species of solar cell for study.