Japan Researchers Just Created a Wearable Solar Cell Patch
By Heather Callaghan, Editor
Solar is everywhere now. Tech worshipers figure, what better way to harness energy than to capture the very essence of the sun?
While it does have its drawbacks, it is a form of “off-grid” energy. Solar cell technology can quite possibly draw us away from energy monopolies – if we allow it to. See: These Clear Solar Cells Can Turn Any Glass Surface Into Power
One of the drawbacks to solar-powered rooftops is damage from hurricanes. It would also be nice to utilize solar for camping or even recharging electronics on the go. Could wearable solar help with that?
Product Design Developement reports:
A solar cell can now be heat-printed onto your T-shirt sleeve. A team of researchers from Riken Research and Toray Industries has created a flexible, organic solar cell that attaches to a shirt with a melted polyurethane substrate with no damage done to the cell.
“Power sources that are flexible enough to be attached onto curved and rough surfaces are one of the most promising solutions to supplying electrical power directly to Internet of Things sensors, wearable sensors, and electronic devices,” the researchers wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, according to GE Reports.
These flexible solar cells have the potential to offer solutions for on-the-go charging for smartphones and different wearable technology. Eventually, they hope to power products such as tents with solar cells, potentially providing electricity to survivors stranded from natural disasters.
The solar cells are about three micrometers thick, and can withstand temperatures over 100 degrees Celsius, which helps from ruining the solar cell when it is heat-printed onto fabric. The cells can also convert energy with 10 percent more efficiency than other organic solar cells.
Developers plan on making sure that the wearable solar cell patch is resistant to water and can be rolled out by 2020.
One problem with solar we have to solve is its mined resources and the potential for slave labor. Before we create more waste we need to ask, can the product and byproducts of this tech be reborn? The last thing we need is for posterity to figure out how to clean another tech boom mess – but then again, they might be too busy soaking up the sun!
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