Ultra-Thin Solar Cells Turn Any Surface Into a Power Source

Researchers at MIT have developed lightweight yet durable solar cells that can be applied to any surface to create a power source. Thinner than a strand of human hair and one-hundredth the weight of solar panels, these cells vastly improve the versatility and adaptability of solar energy, fitting onto the sails of boats, wings of drones or tents and tarps during emergency situations. They also generate 18 times more power per kilogram than traditional panels. To create the cells, researchers used ink-based electronic nano-materials and screen-printed an electrode onto a solar cell structure that is coated with the ink-based material. Then, they adhered the module onto a material called Dyneema, a high-strength, flexible and light fabric that weighs only 13 grams per square meter. Learn more about the invention at MIT News.

Image courtesy of Melanie Gonick/MIT