Researchers at the A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics in Singapore, led by Chang-yun Jiang, have developed highly bendable “dye-sensitized” solar cells made from zinc oxide nanowire photoelectrodes on plastic substrates. The researchers found that the nanowires are highly resistant to cracking because gaps between the nanowires allow them to efficiently release bending stresses. The devices, which conserve their photovoltaic properties even when they are extremely bent, have a variety of potential application in flexible and portable devices, such as solar-cell mobile phone chargers, clothes, and umbrellas.
The photoanodes in dye-senzitised solar cells (DSCCs) are usually made from a film of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide nanocrystals. The problem is that these thick films are fragile and crack easily when bent. Moreover, nanocrystals work well at high temperatures, which are disastrous for the plastic-film substrates. The scientists solved this problem by creating flexible DSSCs that are based on this substrate, so that their properties are conserved even when bent.
More about the zinc oxide nanowire flexible cells can be found here (translated via Google).