Flexible Solar Panel Researches Bring Solar Modules Less Than Half-a-Millimeter Thick to Use as Wallpapers and Curtains
What about wallpapering your home with solar panels? Yes, you have heard it right! A team of researchers are developing flexible solar panel that you can hang as wallpaper or curtain in your home. And produce energy from sunlight and even your interior lighting. Amazingly, recycling light energy is going to be easier than recycling anything else in your home.
Virginia Tech researchers, led by Shashank Priya, has made the innovative flexible solar panel, which compared to its silicon equivalent, is less powerful, but quite nice for use as part of window curtains or as wallpaper. As you can see, it can grab energy from both sunlight and interior lights.
Great things to know about the flexible solar panel are their awesome scalability and lower production cost. The flexible solar cells are highly scalable meaning that you can attach them to any flexible sheets, papers and like that. In addition, researchers could develop the new solar modules at low temperature and so production cost sure goes inexpensive. We have more details about the flexible solar cells after the break.
Flexible Solar Panel – How it Works?
The flexible solar module is built through a screen-printing process. The material used is low-temperature titanium oxide paste. The outcome is a flexible and very thin panel that has a size of a bathroom tile. Well, by combining these tile-size panels, let us cover large areas so that it can capture more light.
Coming to the capacity of the panel, an individual unit – roughly the size of your palm – can produce as much as 75 milli-watts of energy. That means you can produce enough energy to charge a moderate smart phone with a layer of the solar cell over a sheet of paper.
Of course, researchers admit that total conversion rate of the new solar cell is less than what the traditional silicon cells offer. “Amorphous silicon is a fairly mature technology running at about 13-15 percent efficiency,” Priya said. “Our panels right now operate around 10 percent at the panel size. At smaller, less-useful sizes, the efficiency increases, and so we can see a potential for much greater energy collection efficiencies.”
Flexible Solar Panel and Silicon Cells Integration
However, as its makers suggest, incorporating the flexible solar panel modules with silicon cells is a good idea. Sure, it could laregly help many industries like portable solar power and military. Through better integration of the solar technologies, we can make cool camping backpacks and military uniforms. Interestingly, Priya’s lab is already working with the US Army’s concerned department to take the new developments into application.
No doubt, ongoing researches will contribute much to the world’s seek for more flexible and adaptable solar cells. We are living in an era that faces critical shortage of traditional energy. Once we have more awesome ways to recycle power from lighting that would bring great advantages to our nature and the planet earth. Thus, we can reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible.
Thanks to ScienceDaily