Don't run yet! I'm the first who would like to cover my car with film and get it powered to run on photovoltaic energy, but that option isn't hear yet. New research could make it a little bit closer, though. Physicist Neil Greenham from Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory had been researching polymer light emitting diodes (LEDs), used for displays in some televisions, MP3 players and mobile phones. But then he joined a research group trying to use similar polymers to generate electricity from light. Now, his work has resulted an organic solar cell that doesn't use expensive silicon.
Silicon-made photovoltaic panels are expensive, heavy and not very green to make.
Nevertheless, this technology has a drawback: very low efficiency. While state-of-the-art silicon panels can yield 40 percent efficiency, commercially available panels usually get about 15 percent. Greenham's target is 5 percent, which could power many types of devices with a cheaper cost. To make things more interesting, the scientists want to "print" solar cells with an ultra-thin mix of two semiconducting polymers on a flexible plastic backing up to one meter wide. The process, which would be low-temperature, would have a much smaller carbon footprint.