Researchers create wearable ultra-thin solar cells thinner than spider silk

By on April 5, 2012, 3:00 PM

A team of scientists from Austria and Japan have developed a solar cell that is thinner than a single thread of spider silk. The device unveiled Wednesday is about 1.9 micro-meters thick; one micro-meter is equal to one millionth of a meter (3.3 feet).

The device is constructed from electrodes on a plastic foil and is about a tenth the size of the smallest solar cells available today. The cell is also elastic and is flexible enough to be wrapped around a single human hair without incurring any damage.

The low weight and flexibility means that it could be worn by humans without them even noticing it. For example, elderly folks that are required to wear a health monitor could do so without having to haul around a battery pack. The device could also be attached to clothes like a badge to collect and store electricity for later use.

Martin Kaltenbrunner, Siegfried Bauer and others from Johannes Kepler University of Austria teamed up with Tsuyoshi Sekitani and additional researchers at the University of Tokoy to work on the project.

Speaking on behalf of the researchers, Sekitani said that the cells could be made larger and in return, increase the rate at which the device converts solar energy into electricity. This could be done without risking damage to the cells based on their elasticity.

The researchers hope to put the cells to practical use within the next five years.

User Comments: 8

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MilwaukeeMike said:

This sounds really cool, like putting it on the back of my cell phone to extend the battery. It really matters how much electricity it produces though. Even giant solar panels are very inefficient.

When i was a kid I had a potato clock. You plugged electrodes into a potato, and something in there created enough power to run a digital clock. Cool, but not useful.

Tygerstrike said:

Think how cheap electricity will be when this comes out. If it stores it to a battery pack, everyone could be making cash from selling the electricity they generated that day.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

Except, the sunnier it is the less clothes I wear...

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

bald guys could put these on their heads and be roaming recharge outlets.. get a few fat guys to lay on the beach and you've got power for a radio and cooler..

Timonius Timonius said:

It's pretty sunny all year round where I live even when it's forty below

Anyways, looking forward to better technologies involving solar power, it's practically 'free' energy.

Guest said:

cool ill sit in the sun all day to power my wheelchair to make a 100m trip home

Guest said:

I've seen virtually the same article on other sites and they all credited the source: Agence France-Presse. I don't think it is right to change a few words here and there and then claim the article is yours. It doesn't do much for the credibility of this site.

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