Solar cells keep getting thinner and tinier, and thanks to MIT and their research sponsor Eni, we are already seeing cells that can be folded up into paper airplanes! Recently revealed, MIT’s paper solar cells feature five layers of solid material layered on a paper substrate. When combined, the materials and paper form a solar cell. Albeit weak – each cell has an efficiency level of of just 1%, while most commercial silicon solar cells maintain at least 15% efficiency – the potential for commercial application is incredible.

While still on the low end researchers are hoping to get the paper solar cells up to 4% efficiency. Once this happens, the cheap, flexible cells could be used in all sorts of applications, such as laptop covers, attached to shades or blinds, and even laminated onto roofs by non-professionals.

Although they won’t be hitting shelves tomorrow, certainly stay tuned – these cells could be ready for commercialization within the next five years.