A team of US research scientists have made a startling breakthrough in solar-cell development, creating flexible wire-based cell substrates that use just one per cent of the silicon needed for brittle and comparatively heavy conventional cells.

Solar cells made from this material would not only be less expensive than current photovoltaics, but due to their low weight and bendable structure the could be used in a wide variety of applications.

The trick in this new method is to bundle one-micrometer-thick silicon wires and embed the resulting array vertically in a flexible polymer. Thus bundled, the paper claims, the array could capture and transmit up to 96 per cent of light in peak conditions while requiring only one per cent of the silicon needed by conventional cells.

via US lab births flexy, stingy solar cells • The Register.