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Infrared Vision: New material may enhance plastic solar cells

Researchers have moved one step closer to the goal of flexible, low-cost, lightweight solar cells made of plastic. They've created the first polymer-based photovoltaic material that can harness a part of the sun's spectrum that had previously evaded capture.

Because the polymers in plastic solar cells currently under development absorb only visible light, they convert about 6 percent of the sun's energy into electrical power. If the materials could harvest both the visible and infrared parts of the spectrum, plastic solar cells might achieve up to 30 percent efficiency, says Stanford University's Peter Peumans.

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