A new design for photovoltaic (PV) solar cells which leads to low bending stiffness and allows a high degree of flexibility is reported in Nature Communications this week.Current systems of PV cells have many desirable characteristics however they do not function effectively in geographical locations where levels of sunlight hitting their surface are low or in applications that demand mechanically flexible modules. John Rogers and colleagues overcome these constraints through the use of a composite material structure consisting of sparse distributing arrays of microscale solar cells embedded directly into the solar cell waveguide. A key feature of the design of these cells is that it allows the capture of light not only through their top surfaces but also through their sidewalls and bottom surfaces.Unlike conventional luminescent photovoltaics this unusual design can be implemented in ultrathin, mechanically bendable formats.
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