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As the solar industry booms, so does R&D. Here are 8 exciting new research developments in solar energy research. From Tech Republic Excerpt: "We've said it before, and we'll say it again. 2015 is going to be a huge year for the solar industry. A photovoltaic system is installed every four minutes in the US. There are now 142,000 jobs in the solar industry alone. Some experts are even saying that rooftop solar will reach grid parity in all 50 states by 2016. The research behind solar energy is booming, too. Scientists are discovering new ways to decrease costs and increase efficiency of solar panels and coming up with creative, impressive ways to generate power. Here are eight examples. 1. Bionic leaf 2. 3D printed solar powered trees 3. Perovskites Perovskites are materials with a specific crystalline structure. Stanford University researchers found that using lead, ammonia, and iodine, they could make a lot of it for cheap. Perovskites are more efficient than silicon in some ways, so the idea is using them to supplement rather than replace silicon may be a way to increase the efficiency of solar cells. At Stanford, a silicon solar cell with an efficiency of 11.4% increased to 17% with perovskite. 4. Thin film solar New research from Cornell, published in Nature in January, 5. Carbon-based solar cells Another cheap alternative to silicon that has emerged is printed carbon-based, or organic, solar cells. 6. Colored solar panels Scientists have found a way to make solar panels a little more aesthetically pleasing. 7. Polymer solar cells Polymer solar cells, called P1D2, may increase solar cell efficiency. 8. Solar concentration technology Concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems are giant and have to be angled very accurately to get the right amount of sun during the day. They work great, but they're not ideal for roofs. Now, a team of researchers is working on using that high-efficiency technology for rooftop PV systems by building them with miniaturized, gallium arsenide photovoltaic cells and 3D printed plastic lens arrays. The systems weigh less, cost less, and are much smaller than CPV systems, though, and can be optimized for rooftops." OK, each of the above has a link to a full webpage detailing the breakthrough, and I omitted most of the descriptions in the interest of showing all the types in the full article here: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/8-crazy-new-solar-research-breakthroughs/?tag=nl.e101&s_cid=e101&ttag=e101&ftag=TRE684d531