Ultralight, fabric solar cells developed by MIT engineers. Photo Credit: MITTechnology United States
Tiny Solar Cells, Big Breakthrough
Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have just developed tiny solar cells that have the ability to turn any surface into a power source.
The solar cells are one-hundredth the weight of conventional solar panels and generate 18 times more power-per-kilogram. “The lightweight solar fabrics enable integrability, providing impetus for the current work. We strive to accelerate solar adoption, given the present urgent need to deploy new carbon-free sources of energy,” explains Vladimir Bulović, senior author of the paper describing the work.
The solar cells are lightweight and thinner than a strand of human hair, making it possible to laminate them onto a multitude of surfaces. They could for example be used to provide power to boats while at sea, placed into tents and tarps during disaster relief operations, or applied to drones to extend their flying range, among others.