Flexible photovoltaics on baterial cellulose

Physical Sciences : Materials and Compounds

Available for licensing


  • Brian Korgel, Ph.D. , Chemical Engineering
  • R. Malcolm Brown, Jr., Ph.D. , School of Biological Sciences
  • Taylor Harvey, Ph.D. , Chemical Engineering
  • James Sham , Art and Art History
  • Vikas Reddy Voggu , Chemical Engineering

Background/unmet need

To make solar power ubiquitous, it is essential to build mechanically flexible solar cells which can be used in both off-grid and on-grid applications. Thin-film solar cells, including the ones using nanocrystal absorber layer, are not very flexible due to other crystalline layers like the top conducting oxide layer of Indium Tin Oxide. When thin-film solar cells are fabricated on commonly used flexible substrates like PET, some layers in the device may crack and the device can no longer function properly.

When a thin-film solar cell is fabricated over microbial cellulose, no cracks were formed in the layers even with a bending radius as small as 5mm. Further, the solar cells retained their performances even after many bending cycles.

Invention Description

The invention is a photovoltaic device that is fabricated on bacterial cellulose using printable inks composed of semiconductor nanocrystals used for other photovoltaic applications.  


  • True mechanically flexible solar cells
  • Inexpensive fabrication process
  • Environmental friendly substrate for flexible photovoltaics


  • Less expensive to produce compared to current technologies.
  • Roll-to-roll manufacturing enables large-scale production
  • Enhanced flexibility with no loss in function

Market potential/applications

Solar cells; flexible electronics; paper; labels 

IP Status

  • 1 PCT patent application filed