Solar fiber – another step towards photovoltaic textiles

photovoltaic-fiberMany of us dream of getting electrical energy not only free of charge but also have it available in the remotest areas of our world. Even better, if everyday objects like our clothing can constantly and continuously keep our pockets full of electrical gadgets powered forever, it would feel like the digital heaven on earth.

To make sure that dream becomes reality one day, Konarka the number one flexible solar malarial maker from US has made another significant step towards photovoltaic (solar) textiles.

An article published on Science Magazine: ‘Solar Power Wires Based on Organic Photovoltaic Materials‘, co-authored by Konarka’s vice president of research, Dr. Russell Gaudiana and chief technology officer Christoph Brabec discusses how a wire format requires long-distance transport of current that can be achieved only with conventional metals, eliminating the use of transparent oxide semiconductors.

In simplified terms: stainless steel wires the thickness of a human hair of around 100 micron get a three layer coat to form a organic solar cell. A second wire just 50 microns thick is coated with silver paste for the secondary electrode. These two wires are inter winded and coated in a clear polymer coat for protection and insulation.

The resulting solar wire/fiber is capable of harvest around 3% of light into electrical energy. This might not sound much (and it isn’t) but with the large areas textile often cover (clothing, furniture, tents, sails, …) these 3% can add up nicely to a steady flow of energy to juice up our digital lifestyle.

First prototypes of the solar fibers are several hundred feed long and can be woven into solar power generating clothing or other textile products.

This highly interesting report can be viewed/downloaded via the Konarka News site.


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