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Plastic solar cells get boost in efficiency, uses

    This is Science Today. Plastic solar cells are cheaper and lighter than silicon ones, but there have been concerns about their efficiency. Now a UCLA engineer is working with a private company to significantly boost efficiency. Yang Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering, says they were able to create a solar cell in a way that's similar to printing newspapers.  

Yang:        So we can actually produce these solar cells and bring to the market much faster than the traditional silicon process. And more important, in the future our product will be [a] panel that will be flexible, lightweight and you can mount on the roof or even the purse or a backpack, so that's an advantage that we have.

Narrator:    These flexible, lightweight panels could be called solar posters and be hung outside of a house or a building to collect solar energy.

Yang:        The other advantage we have is our material being plastic, which can actually make semi-transparent solar windows on the high-rise buildings or on the normal buildings that usually they tint the window to reduce infrared and we can use the infrared to create electricity.

Narrator:    For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.