Volunteers have offered one million computers' processing power to scientists trying to make more efficient solar cells from plastics.
The flexible, lighter and cheaper cells exist but are not powerful enough to be cost efficient.
Scientists at Harvard University and IBM are turning to a network of 413,000 individuals and one million computers to help them carry out the calculations to find the combination of materials that will be more cost efficient.
"It is not now cost efficient, although the materials are cheap because it's plastic," said Alan Aspuru-Guzik, a chemistry researcher at Harvard University.
The use of distributed computers' processing power is known as grid computing and is being used in other projects such as the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
Over five million users signed up to the SETI programme, which uses the grids processing power to go through data from radio telescopes in search of indication of alien life.
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