A team made up of some of the world’s foremost energy scientists says it has developed technology that enables electric vehicles to greatly increase their solar energy efficiency, and decrease their reliance on fuel or electricity.
A new, highly-efficient solar cell known as PolyPower has been developed from a combination of environmentally-friendly, non-toxic organic materials and cutting-edge nanotechnology. The panels are both flexible and durable enough to be easily applied to all sorts of structures – including transportation, drones, boat decks, wearable tech, and military hardware – in wafer-thin layers. At the heart of the polymer solar cell is a light-absorbing layer, consisting of an organic mixture, sandwiched between two conducting electrodes. This layer absorbs solar energy, converting it into electrical power. The optimised thickness of the active layer is in the range of hundreds of nanometres.
The technology has been designed to develop new, highly-efficient cells that can produce energy at far lower cost than existing hardware. The team that developed it is led by Dr Franky So, formerly the head of the OLED research group at Motorola, where he was named a Distinguished Motivator and Master Innovator. In 2015, Dr So joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University, where he is now a Distinguished Professor.
The government’s Road To Zero plan will make plug-in hybrids, electric and hydrogen cars the only legal new models to be sold in the UK by 2040. However, NextGen Nano is aiming for a global launch of this alternative option by 2021 – a full nine years ahead of the government deadline.