CAMBRIDGE, England, July 24 -- Cambridge Display Technology (CDT) has been awarded a grant from the UK Government’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for plastic solar cell research and development. DTI has awarded CDT £300,000 toward the £500,000 two-year project.
The grant will be used to develop efficient, commercially viable solar cells, also referred to as photovoltaic devices, and light detectors based on CDT’s proprietary plastic semiconductor technology.
"Polymer-based solar cells have the potential to make a positive impact on addressing energy issues as well as paving the way for flexible solar cells to be used in applications where solar power has previously been too expensive or technically unfeasible, such as on disposable packaging, clothing and in nonplanar products," said Karl Heeks, who is responsible for strategic technology assets at CDT.
Polymer solar cells have a very similar device architecture to CDT’s light-emitting polymer (LEP) displays. Whereas LEP displays emit light when an electrical charge is applied, CDT researchers have been able to reverse the process and generate electricity when light shines on a polymer-based cell.
CDT said the potential to develop inexpensive, flexible plastic solar cells that could be manufactured using low-cost roll-to-roll production have strong commercial appeal. Currently, most solar panels are silicon based, which makes them expensive to manufacture and limits their scalability to large-area panels.
Possible applications for plastic solar cells include rechargeable handheld electronic devices, wearable electronics technology, large outdoor displays and secondary power sources for homes and factories. CDT has recently demonstrated polymer-based solar cells that power digital clocks.