Flexible solar cells have a lot of market potential for application in photovoltaics integrated into buildings and wearable electronics because they are lightweight, shockproof and self-powered. Silicon solar cells have been successfully used in large power plants. However, despite the efforts made for more than 50 years, there has been no notable progress in the development of flexible silicon solar cells because of their rigidity1–4. Here we provide a strategy for fabricating large-scale, foldable silicon wafers and manufacturing flexible solar cells. A textured crystalline silicon wafer always starts to crack at the sharp channels between surface pyramids in the marginal region of the wafer. This fact enabled us to improve the flexibility of silicon wafers by blunting the pyramidal structure in the marginal regions. This edge-blunting technique enables commercial production of large-scale (>240 cm2), high-efficiency (>24%) silicon solar cells that can be rolled similarly to a sheet of paper. The cells retain 100% of their power conversion efficiency after 1,000 side-to-side bending cycles. After being assembled into large (>10,000 cm2) flexible modules, these cells retain 99.62% of their power after thermal cycling between −70 °C and 85 °C for 120 h. Furthermore, they retain 96.03% of their power after 20 min of exposure to air flow when attached to a soft gasbag, which models wind blowing during a violent storm.
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