Efficient Plastic Solar Cells

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OPEN 2012
Golden, Colorado
Project Term:
02/01/2013 - 04/30/2014

Technology Description:

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado (CU) are developing a way to enhance plastic solar cells to capture a larger part of the solar spectrum. Conventional plastic solar cells can be inexpensive to fabricate but do not efficiently convert light into electricity. NREL is designing novel device architecture for plastic solar cells that would enhance the utilization of parts of the solar spectrum for a wide array of plastic solar cell types. To develop these plastic solar cells, NREL and CU will leverage computational modeling and advanced facilities specializing in processing plastic PVs. NREL’s plastic solar cell devices have the potential to exceed the power conversion efficiencies of traditional plastic solar cells by up to threefold.

Potential Impact:

If successful, NREL’s approach would achieve 3 times the efficiency of traditional plastic PVs, enabling widespread market adoption of this low-cost, clean, and renewable electricity source.


Cost-effective solar energy would increase U.S. renewable energy use and help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.


Replacing energy systems powered by fossil fuels would provide an immediate decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, of which electricity generation accounts for over 40%.


Cost-effective renewable energy alternatives would reduce fuel prices and stabilize electricity rates for consumers. Integrating these renewable technologies directly into buildings will reduce stress on the electric grid.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Ilan Gur
Project Contact:
Dr. Nikos Kopidakis
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


University of Colorado, Boulder

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