Grant to Develop Polymer-Based Solar Energy

Cambridge Display Technology (CDT), a researcher, commercial developer and owner of the fundamental intellectual property for light emitting polymer (LEP) technology, has been awarded a grant from the U.K. Government’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for plastic solar cell research and development.

Cambridge, United Kingdom – July 26, 2002 [] The grant will be used toward the development of efficient, commercially viable solar cells, also referred to as photovoltaic devices, and light detectors based on CDT’s proprietary plastic semiconductor technology. “Polymer-based solar cells have the potential to make a positive impact on addressing energy issues, as well as paving the way for flexible solar cells to be used in applications where solar power has previously been too expensive or technically unfeasible, such as on disposable packaging, clothing and in non-planar products,” said Dr. Karl Heeks, responsible for strategic technology assets at CDT. “We are very gratified to have won this DTI grant because it recognizes the market application potential of CDT’s polymer photovoltaic technology, which we are committed to making commercially viable.” Polymer solar cells have a very similar device architecture to CDT’s LEP displays. Whereas LEP displays emit light when an electrical charge is applied, CDT researchers have been able to reverse the process and generate electricity when light shines on a polymer-based cell. Of strong commercial interest is the potential to develop inexpensive, flexible plastic solar cells that could be manufactured using low-cost roll-to-roll production. Currently, most solar panels are silicon-based, which makes them expensive to manufacture and limits their scalability to large area panels. Plastic solar cell applications could ultimately range from rechargeable handheld electronic devices, wearable electronics technology, and large outdoor displays to secondary power sources for homes and factories. CDT has recently demonstrated polymer-based solar cells that power digital clocks.
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