HomeScienceMIT scientists make photo voltaic panels as skinny as a human hair

MIT scientists make photo voltaic panels as skinny as a human hair

Six years in the past, an MIT engineering staff on the college’s Natural and Nanostructured Electronics Laboratory (ONE Lab) developed a photo voltaic cell so skinny it might relaxation atop a cleaning soap bubble. Whereas spectacular, the manufacturing necessities and price sadly prohibited any viable large-scale plans. This week, nonetheless, ONE Lab revealed a brand new, equally ultra-thin photo voltaic cell materials that’s one-hundredth the load of standard panels, whereas additionally doubtlessly producing 18 instances extra power-per-kilogram in comparison with conventional photo voltaic expertise. Not solely that, however its manufacturing strategies present promising potential for scalability and main manufacturing.

As a press launch from MIT explains, highly effective photo voltaic cells’ fragile natures require thick glass and aluminum encasements for defense, thus limiting their versatility and implementation alternatives. Utilizing semiconducting inks printed onto materials thinner than a single strand of human hair, the staff was capable of subsequently glue the panels onto a layer of Dyneema, a protecting, ultra-lightweight composite cloth weighing solely 13 grams-per-square meter. The resultant microns-thin sheet might then be laminated atop quite a lot of surfaces and supplies—assume tent exteriors to generate energy throughout catastrophe aid efforts, or drone wings to increase their potential flight instances.

[Related: This new floating solar farm follows the sun like a flower.]

Regardless of its extremely miniature design, the brand new materials packs loads of storage potential. Talking with MIT, Mayuran Saravanapavanantham, one of many staff’s paper co-authors and {an electrical} engineering and pc science graduate scholar, provided a normal dwelling rooftop photo voltaic array for comparability. “A typical rooftop photo voltaic set up in Massachusetts is about 8,000 watts,” Saravanapavanantham defined. “To generate that very same quantity of energy, our cloth photovoltaics would solely add about 20 kilograms (44 kilos) to the roof of a home.”

Sturdiness can also be a key element for any viable photo voltaic cell array, a function the ONE Lab staff demonstrated in its new design by reportedly rolling and unrolling the material over 500 instances, which solely resulted in a lower than 10 % loss in potential energy era.

[Related: A tiny, foldable solar panel is going to space.]

Sadly, MIT’s spectacular photo voltaic cloth isn’t fairly prepared to stitch into your garments simply but. The staff remains to be looking for the correct materials to encase the product—as a result of the cells are constituted of carbon-based natural materials, publicity to the pure moisture and oxygen within the air would lead to a fast decline in capabilities.

“We’re working to take away as a lot of the non-solar-active materials as attainable whereas nonetheless retaining the shape issue and efficiency of those ultralight and versatile photo voltaic constructions,” Jeremiah Mwaura, one of many paper’s further co-authors, defined to MIT. As soon as that downside is addressed, the photo voltaic cloth might discover its manner onto numerous surfaces so as to add much-needed inexperienced, renewable energy to day by day life.



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