Side-step the solar

Solar cells that use a range of organic dyes to generate electric power from any light source, solar or otherwise, could be incorporated into portable devices such as mp3 players, cellphones, and even clothing, according to their inventors at Massey University, New Zealand. Wayne Campbell and his colleagues have taken ten years to develop a proof-of-concept cell based on what the team describes as the most efficient porphyrin dye in the world, presumably outside the plant kingdom. "Within two to three years we will have developed a prototype for real applications," he says. Campbell said that unlike silicone-based solar cells, the porphyrin-based cells work even in low-light conditions, making them ideal for cloudy climates.