Until now, photovoltaics-the conversion of sunlight to electrical power-has been dominated by solid-state junction devices, often made of silicon. But this dominance is now being challenged by the emergence of a new generation of photovoltaic cells, based, for example, on nanocrystalline materials and conducting polymer films. These offer the prospect of cheap fabrication together with other attractive features, such as flexibility. The phenomenal recent progress in fabricating and characterizing nanocrystalline materials has opened up whole new vistas of opportunity. Contrary to expectation, some of the new devices have strikingly high conversion efficiencies, which compete with those of conventional devices. Here I look into the historical background, and present status and development prospects for this new generation of photoelectrochemical cells.