06 Dec Promising Solar-Cell Fabric Technology for Cell Phones, Tablets and Other Devices
A team of researchers made up of scientists, engineers, and chemists from around the global has created ground-breaking technology that combines silicon-based optical fibers with solar cells. The makes it a near reality to integrating solar-cell silicon fibers to produce bendable, curved or twisted solar fabric. The researchers also demonstrated that it could scale the material to multiple meters in length.
Professor John Badding, a Penn State chemistry professor who led the team, posted the information in the online journal of Advanced Materials on December 6. The paper will also appear in a future hard-copy edition of the journal.
First Optical Fiber Research
Earlier this the year, Professor Badding introduced another finding that culminated in the discovery of how to create a crystalline material that permitted them to incorporate optical fiber with high-speed silicon-based integrated circuits. The same chips commonly used in a variety of electronic devices, including personal computers, mobile phones, and solar cells.
In this earlier process, instead of fusing a flat microchip with round optical fibers, the researchers made the decision to construct a new type of optical fiber. The material, which has a slightly thinner width than that of a human hair, required a unique integrated electronic module. This one of a kind component eliminated the need to assimilate fiber-optics with the chip.
Fabrication of the new optical fiber chip requires researchers to employ high-pressure chemistry methods and a deposition process. The procedure builds multiple layers of semiconducting materials into the minuscule holes contained in the optical fiber.
Taking It a Step Further
Employing an identical high-pressure chemistry system, the researchers used fashioned crystalline silicon semiconductor materials to produce a fiber that has the ability to function as a solar cell. Like conventional solar cells of a PV device, the fiber converts the rays of the sun into direct-current (DC) electricity which is electrical power before it is stepped-down to alternating current (AC).
According to Mr. Badding, the team’s objective centers on the creation of a distinctive applications by weaving the silicon fibers into a fabric to create solar battery chargers, power generation technology, chemical detection equipment, and bio-medical devices. Badding believes the fact that the team created flexible solar-cell threads that exceed 10 meters in length makes these applications and more a reality.
For example, the solar-cell fiber can be used to create smart phone, tablets and laptop batteries that have a longer battery life. The material would eliminate expensive PECVD (plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition) process currently uses to create the inflexible solar cells found in batteries and result in a power source that can be worn around a user’s neck or folded. The flexibility of the fibers technology also makes it possible to collect the sun’s radiation from different angles.