|What looks like a sail and mast is actually an ultrathin organic photovoltaic cell wrapped around a human hair. (Image: Johannes Kepler University Linz)
Linz, Germany and Tokyo, Japan--Scientists at the Johannes Kepler University Linz and the University of Tokyo have created an organic solar cell so thin and flexible it can be wrapped around a human hair. A mere 2 microns thick, the cell (consisting of electrodes, active layer, and polyethylene substrate) has a 4.2% conversion efficiency and produces 10 W/g. The results were recently published in the scientific journal “Nature Communications.”
The photovoltaic cell includes a 150 nm layer of the transparent organic conductor PEDOT:PSS, a 200 nm active layer consisting of a fullerene-related material, a 115 nm metal electrode layer, and a 1.4 micron polyethylene substrate. Substrates in conventional cells of this kind previously made up 99% of the cell, rather than the two-thirds in the new device, which weighs only 4 g/m2.
The ultrathin, lightweight solar cells could be used in the field of robotics, in multifunctional synthetic skin, and in electronic textiles.