UCLA researchers recently created a new type of polymer solar cell that can maintain around 70% transparency while converting infrared light into an electrical current.
It can be produced in high volume for a low cost because it’s made from lightweight, flexible photoactive plastic. The new cells are less sensitive to visible light but absorb more near-infrared light than previous failed versions, allowing a balance between performance and transparency.
The new design also eliminates the need for opaque metal electrodes by replacing them with a transparent conductor. The finished product offers a 4% power-conversion efficiency. The team’s discovery opens the door for future solar components in portable electronics, smart windows, and building-integrated photovoltaics, says Yang Yang, study leader and UCLA professor.