November 6, 2018

UA Researchers Developing Plastic-Based Solar Cells

The group is working on on organic, lower-cost solar power collectors

Solar Rooftop A solar panel array like on a rooftop. (PHOTO: Pixabay)

A University of Arizona biochemist is looking at the next development in solar power by giving it an organic twist.

Scott Saavedra is leading a team trying to find out how to make lightweight, low-cost devices that can capture solar energy and generate power for field use. He says it's possible to use solar power without relying on large silicon-based panels.

"But the durability is an issue. They are sensitive to oxygen, and they break down over extended use, so this is a challenge," he said.

Saavedra's group is trying to replace the silicon components found in rooftop solar panels with lower-cost organic plastics developed through molecular engineering. Researchers are testing plastic solar cells on thin film to evaluate the cells' efficiency and ability to endure difficult operating environments.

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