Plastic Solar Cells beyond 10% efficiencies

There have been many claims recently about Plastic solar cells, well-known to the scientific community as Organic PhotoVoltaic (OPV), achieving record efficiencies around the 10% mark. We note here three leading companies in this area that are very active and are aiming for much higher efficiencies of OPV around 15% over the coming years.

An organic solar cell or plastic solar cell is a type of polymer solar cell that uses organic electronics, a branch of electronics that deals with conductive organic polymers or small organic molecules, for light absorption and charge transport to produce electricity from sunlight by the photovoltaic effect. Organic solar cells are cheaper to produce, lighter and more flexible than traditional silicon-based solar cells, and therefore have a wider range of applications. They can utilize both indoor and outdoor light in producing direct current (DC) electrical energy. The downside is that the efficiency rate of OPV cells is still much lower than inorganic solar cells and thanks to some inevtions from the companies below, this story might change in a few years time.


Konarka Power Plastics, USA 


Konarka Technologies was founded in 2001 by a team of scientists at UMass Lowell, led by the late Dr. Sukant Tripathy, an internationally known materials scientist and professor at UMASS Lowell, Dr. Alan Heeger, a 2000 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Howard Berke, Konarka’s Executive Chairman. 



Announced earlier this year a record cell efficiency of 9%



Solarmer Energy, USA 


Solarmer Energy, Inc. was founded in 2006 and it's IP porfolio consists of more than 30 patents and applications filed globally. Solarmer is located in the city of El Monte in California where the company has an its headquarters and an R&D center. In 2009, Solarmer established a wholly owned subsidiary in China named Solarmer Energy (Beijing), Inc. for large-scale synthesis to support R&D and production activities.

Announced recently an OPV solar efficiency of 9.3% in partnership with Phillips 66 and South China University of Technology 


Heliatek, Germany 


Heliatek was spun-off in 2006 from the Technical University of Dresden (IAPP) and the University of Ulm. At the moment, Heliatek is making the transition from pure technology development to industrial manufacture.


Reported a new world record efficiency of 10.7% for the company's latest tandem organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells


For comparison, below is the famous chart showing efficiencies of all type of PV cells. It is to be noted however that cell record efficiencies are often recorded under research lab conditions and module efficiencies are lower than cell efficiencies, more so under actual outside conditions.

Recreated from original blog post authored by Nilesh Y. Jadhav at

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