The Economist writes:
Most of the power generated by mankind originates from the sun. It was sunlight that nurtured the early life that became today’s oil, gas and coal. It is the solar heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans that fuels wave power, wind farms and hydroelectric schemes. But using the sun’s energy directly to generate power is rare. Solar cells account for less than 1% of the world’s electricity production.
Kwanghee Lee of Pusan National University, in South Korea, and Alan Heeger of the University of California, Santa Barbara, work on solar cells made of electrically conductive plastics. (Indeed, Dr Heeger won a Nobel prize for discovering that some plastics can be made to conduct electricity.) They found that by adding titanium oxide to such a cell and then baking it in an oven, they could increase the efficiency with which it converted solar energy into electricity.