Engineers at MIT have been experimenting with different kinds of advanced solar energy technology, including a silver ballpoint pen that can draw functional electronic circuits, cells that mimic viruses, and an artificial leaf that mimics photosynthesis. Their most recent innovation is a foldable 3-D electronic circuit that can be printed onto paper.
Foldability is important for portable, cheap circuits â€” a circuit or PV cell that can withstand being crumpled in a pocket would be a major advancement for portable devices. But the lightweight nature of this cell may be its biggest breakthrough. Functional photovoltaic cells printed on paper or thin plastic could have a host of uses, from lightweight battery technology to portable power for developing countries.