To demonstrate the design's potential utility, the researchers produced a solar-powered model aircraft and blimp, and attached a solar cell to a leaf skeleton. In future, they suggest, their design could find applications in robotic insects and drones, and its flexibility and stretchability could be useful in bio-electronics.
Michael Grätzel of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne praises the work as 'a very nice contribution', although he points out that PbI, one of the breakdown products of the perovskite, is both toxic and carcinogenic. 'A glass panel can be made hermetically sealed, but plastics can be easily pierced,' he says. Henry Snaith of the University of Oxford agrees that encapsulation is key: 'I think the next step is to try to really work on the barrier layers to make the things last for a significant length of time like five or 10 years, and yet still not be that much heavier.'