By: Wendy U. Huynh , Janke J. Dittmer and A. Paul Alivisatos


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Cost-effective solar energy may soon be a reality, according to a report on a new approach to making solar cells.

Inorganic solar cells — which have relatively high solar conversion efficiency of 10 per cent — are currently too expensive for widespread use. Plastic-based solar cells, on the other hand, are cheaper but much less efficient, converting only 2.5 per cent of available light into energy.

Now, Wendy U. Huynh and colleagues from the University of California, United States have drawn from the best of both worlds by combining plastic polymers with semiconducting nanorod-shaped molecules.

They report in the 29 March issue of Science that solar cells made with this hybrid material have a power conversion efficiency of 6.9 percent.

Reference: Science 295, 2425 (2002)