New ‘plastic’ solar semiconducters could replace silicon solar cells

13 Oct 2010

A “budding” plastic technology has the potential to revolutionise solar energy use, according to new research at Rutgers University.

The new material, which physicists at Rutgers University have discovered, contains properties that could pave the way for cheap and efficient plastic solar cells.

The discovery was posted in an article on and says that energy-carrying particles generated by packets of light can travel up to a thousand times further in organic semiconductors, which are carbon-based, than had been possible before.

The overall hope of the physicists is that this budding technology might overtake silicon solar cells in terms of cost and performance someday, which would make solar energy more accessible to households and businesses and reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

“Organic semiconductors are promising for solar cells and other uses, such as video displays, because they can be fabricated in large plastic sheets,” Vitaly Podzorov, assistant professor of physics at Rutgers, said in the Rutgers article.

“But their limited photo-voltaic conversion efficiency has held them back. We expect our discovery to stimulate further development and progress.”

The implications of this potential revolutionary new technology are vast, however the “extremely pure” rubrene crystals are suitable only for lab use at this time.