The ultra-thin film consists of electrodes on a plastic foil and measures only 1.9 micrometres in thickness – a tenth of the thinnest solar cells currently available, according to researchers in Austria and Japan.
The fact it is extremely thin, light and flexible paves the way for a number of new future uses, including portable electrical charging devices or electronic textiles worn on clothing.
Unveiling the research in a report published by the on-line science journal Nature Communications, the researchers said: “The total thickness of this device is less than a typical thread of spider silk.”
Tsuyoshi Sekitani, from the University of Tokyo, added: “Being ultra-thin means you don’t feel its weight and it is elastic.
“You could attach the device t your clothes like a badge to collect electricity [from the sun]. Elderly people who might want to wear sensors to monitor their health would not need to carry around batteries.”