Photovoltaics on Paper and Plastic Enabled by Oxidative Chemical Vapor Deposition (oCVD)

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Professor Vladimir Bulovic
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
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Professor Karen Gleason
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
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Miles Barr
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Jill Rowehl
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
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Christopher Noble
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Clean and Renewable Energy
Patent Protection

Conductive Polymer on a Textured or Plastic Substrate

US Patent 9,214,639
Direct Monolithic Integration of Organic Photovoltaic Circuits on Unmodified Paper
Advanced Materials, Aug. 16, 2011, Volume 23, Issue 31, Pages 3500–3505


Thin-film organic photovoltaic cells can be applied in existing solar cell applications as well as folded into three-dimensional structures.

Problem Addressed

Widespread adoption of solar cells is limited by cost per watt, primarily due to high substrate and deposition process costs. This technology is a method to fabricate inexpensive, thin, organic photovoltaics on everyday surfaces such as paper. The cells also have a power-to-weight ratio of over 500 W/kg, which is the main advantage of ultra-lightweight photovoltaics.


Conventional transparent electrodes are deposited via sputtering or with solution-processable materials. Both of these methods limit the choice of substrate; however, the proposed method uses oxidative chemical vapor deposition (oCVD), which deposits on virtually any substrate with no pre- or post- treatment. oCVD imparts excellent substrate adhesion through in situ covalent bonding and allows direct control over thickness, dopant concentration, work function, and conductivity. Additionally, the oCVD polymer electrodes retain their electrical integrity even after severe deformation: >1000 flexing cycles at <5mm radius, >100 creasing cycles, and stretching to ~200%.


  • No pretreatment steps or protecting layers
  • Power-to-weight ratio over 500 W/kg
  • Flexible, foldable and capable of being cut to custom size
  • Inexpensive