New advancements pave the way for a new class of flexible and foldable photovoltaic panels, ideal for wearable devices and smartwatches.

The new ultra-thin solar cells are only 3 microns thick.

Organic PV may not be the most suitable solution for large-scale power plants, but it can be ideal for consumer electronics. New international research has designed ultra thin and ultra flexible solar cells with excellent performance.

In the study, published in JouleScientists from Monash University (Australia), University of Tokyo and RIKEN (Japan) participated. The team designed a material of only 3 micrometers thick and based on a mixture of molecules, capable of achieving a 13% efficiency.

The high performance flexible organic solar cells they are considered a promising source of energy for personal electronic devices. However, achieving both high efficiency and robust mechanical stability is not easy. The microstructures inside the device make the active layer brittle.

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The result of the research has been ultra-thin solar cells only 3 microns thick, with an efficiency of 13% (certified value of 12.3%) which remains at 97% after 1000 bending cycles. This is the highest result ever achieved for this class of photovoltaic energy. In the next phase of research, the team intends to expand the unit and combine it with other components in a single device for commercial applications in advanced devices.