An Emerging Technology: Plastic Solar Cells

Solar power is very popular, but the high installation cost does hold back customers, especially homeowners from installing a solar system at home.   

Consider how much money we could save if we printed solar panels the same way we print newspapers! Plastic solar cells allow us to accomplish precisely that. 

One of the aspects of plastics that we can admire is their capacity to upgrade or transform traditional items. 

Consider automobile airbags or tennis rackets composed of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics. 

There are several examples, and plastic solar cells have the potential to change the way we gather and distribute solar energy.

Want to know how? Immerse yourself in this delightful read and decode all the mysteries surrounding plastic solar cells.

What are plastic solar cells: Are they organic solar cells?

Silicon is frequently used to create conventional crystalline solar cells. 

Instead of silicon as a semiconductor, an organic solar cell generates energy from the sun using natural circuitry and carbon-based components. 

Plastic solar cells and polymer solar cells are also frequently used to describe organic cells.

The composition of organic photovoltaics (OPV) and silicon photovoltaics differ significantly, making OPVs more versatile and adaptable than crystalline photovoltaics. 

Organic cells are manufactured with materials commonly dispersed in ink and produced onto thin polymers. Manufacturers may also utilise them to make windows with solar panels.

Despite being a promising new technology, organic photovoltaics still have a long road ahead before they equal the yields previously attained in silicon-based solar cells. 

However, OPVs have various possible uses; thus, they could not be far until they are a widely utilised solar energy generation method. 

Moreover, organic solar devices could rival conventional crystalline cells if efficiency can be improved since organic cells are structurally adaptable and inexpensive to create.

How Do Biological Solar Cells Function?

Essentially, organic cells are built pretty much like solar cells made of crystalline silicon. The two cell types’ semiconducting surfaces vary the most. 

Biological cells contain carbon-based substances (organic chemicals) that are imprinted in an incredibly thin layer on a plastic substrate, as opposed to crystalline silicon. 

Organic solar cells use the photovoltaic effect to produce power, similar to solar cells made of monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon.

In three streamlined processes, a photovoltaic cell converts sunlight into useful electricity:

  • – When light is received, it causes a semiconducting substance to lose some electrons.
  • – The movement of free electrons produces an electrical current.
  • – Wires receive the current after it has been collected.

The photovoltaic technique is identical to an organic solar cell, but carbon-based chemicals are employed in place of silicon as the semiconducting ingredient.

Special Additive 

Plastic solar cells utilise a unique additive for creating the active layer for a good solar cell. A little amount of the additive, a liquid that dries slowly, is mixed in with the ink. 

Let us glance at how it works initially and then attempt to figure out why, if we can. 

The reactive sheets are created using a technique known as spin coating. These sheets are ultra-thin films. An ink molecule is placed on a glass slip, which is then quickly turned to distribute the ink.

After spreading, the ink dries, and a very thin layer is left on the glass. Spin coating is a technique to make thin films from ink. A drop of ink containing a liquid’s green and red polymers is put on a glass plate. 

Without the special additive, the red polymer clumps into beads, and the ink dries in less than a second, which is harmful to the efficiency of solar cells. 

The red polymer is distributed out further, and the drying time takes longer with additives, which is advantageous for the efficiency of solar cells.

The Advantages of Organic Solar Cells

This innovative and exciting advancement in solar technology opens the possibility of charging portable electronic gadgets (such as smartphones, laptops, and mp3 players). 

Manufacturers might accomplish this by using an organic solar cell that produces a current strong enough to rapidly charge a lithium battery without requiring the connection of several separate cells.

Some elements of these high voltage cells perform better in various lighting conditions, even those in low levels of sunlight. The latter is the ideal setting for general electronic devices. 

Currently, this technology is only in the testing phase, but the success rates have been high, and the process looks very promising. 

The next step is making the technology available outside the lab and having cheap OPV chargers available for commercial purchase. 

Several benefits are as follows:

  • – Versatile and portable
  • – The physical property of transparency
  • – Integration with other goods is simple
  • – Fresh marketing possibilities (its design features make it light and flexible)
  • – Low production costs in comparison to existing solar technology, which subsequently results in a cheaper purchasing cost
  • – It may be constantly manufactured using printing machines
  • – Common effects on the ecosystem when produced
  • – Short energy payback periods

The Disadvantages of Organic Solar Cells

The components used to construct an organic photovoltaic cell must have excellent attenuation coefficients. 

It describes the strength of light absorption at different wavelengths in a medium, chemical inertness, and a durable structure for the photovoltaic cells to complement and even surpass the effectiveness of silicon solar cells.

Undoubtedly, organic solar cells can be more efficient than their silicon-based competitors. Their operating lifetime, nevertheless, is not as lengthy. 

Despite their present drawbacks, the innovation is still in the early stages of research. To try and address this drawback, several novel materials, building techniques, and technology advancements are now being made.

However, the development of silicon solar cells is ongoing too. There’s no replacement for these cells in the immediate future.


Electricity is produced by solar cells using the sun’s free energy. Currently, solar power is not a cheap source of energy due to the high cost of solar panels. 

Consider how much money we could save if we printed solar panels the same way we print newspapers! With plastic solar cells, that is a possibility. 

According to industry insiders, the incorporation of plastic solar cells into daily life is predicted to be the next major technological advancement. 

Some scientists believe that sometime in the future, plastic solar cells may power not just our houses but also our digital gadgets and wearable technologies like smartwatches.


Q. Why do we use plastic solar cells?

The ability to manufacture plastic solar cells at a low cost on big flexible foils gives them tremendous promise. 

Producers can improve their effectiveness by including a unique additive into the printer ink, albeit they still require refinement.

Q. How durable are organic solar cells?

Plastic solar cells are quickly developing photovoltaic technology with increasing cell efficiency (18.2% certified at now), attractive performance lifespan (>10 years intact), and shown capability for roll-to-roll production employing solution processes.

Q. Why are infrared plastic solar cells used?

A plastic solar cell can convert solar radiation into electrical energy even on overcast days. The plastic material has first-generation solar cells that can capture the sun’s infrared radiation using nanoparticles.