Scientists across the world have been working to advance solar cells in both efficiency and functionality, and now researchers at MIT have created the thinnest and lightest solar cells yet, which could revolutionize where and how we use solar power.
The product is still being developed, but in a test to find out just how light the new solar cells are, the researchers placed one on top of a bubble without it popping.
In an article for MIT News, David Chandler details the streamlined process in which the solar cells were created, which he notes could save time and the cells' efficiency because it negates the possibility of dust disrupting the process.
In this initial proof-of-concept experiment, the team used a common flexible polymer called parylene as both the substrate and the overcoating, and an organic material called DBP as the primary light-absorbing layer. Parylene is a commercially available plastic coating used widely to protect implanted biomedical devices and printed circuit boards from environmental damage. The entire process takes place in a vacuum chamber at room temperature and without the use of any solvents, unlike conventional solar-cell manufacturing, which requires high temperatures and harsh chemicals. In this case, both the substrate and the solar cell are “grown” using established vapor deposition techniques.