An international team of scientists and engineers have created a fibre that can convert solar radiation into direct-current electricity – creating solar powered clothing.
The silicon-based optical fibres are thinner than the width of a human hair, have solar cell capabilities and can be woven directly through clothing materials to create solar powered clothing.
Professor John Badding is heading the development of the technology using high-pressure chemistry methods to create layers of crystalline silicon which are then inserted into the tiny holes found in optical fibres.
“Our goal is to extend high-performance electronic solar cell function to longer lengths and more flexible forms,” said Prof Badding.
“The new method can be used to create bendable silicon solar-cells over ten meters in length.”
While typical solar cells have only one surface able to harvest energy, a flexible, curved solar cell fabric is a lot less dependent on the suns direction.
The end fibres can be used in a number of applications including power generation, battery charging, chemical sensing and bio-medical devices.
Research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Penn State’s Materials Research Institute Nano Fabrication Network, and the United Kingdom’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).