Solar cells slim down

5th Apr 2012

Developing the thinnest, most flexible solar cells is something of a battleground for many scientists – and it seems that experts in Japan have won the latest round.

Creating versatile technology should mean that solar panels can have a greater number of applications, perhaps even turning everyday objects into power generators.

While this might seem like a pipedream at the moment, Japanese researchers seem to have made some progress into making this a reality.

Imagine a solar cell that is thin enough to be wrapped around a human hair. Struggling? Well that's hardly surprising, as their latest solar cell development is around 1.9 micro-metres thick.

Need more clarification? This is less than a standard thread of spider silk – in other words, pretty darn thin.

You might be asking what sort of practical applications something so fragile might have – a question that the researchers are only too keen to address.

Tsuyoshi Sekitani from the University of Tokyo explains: "You could attach the device to your clothes like a badge to collect electricity from the sun.

"Elderly people who might want to wear sensors to monitor their health would not need to carry around batteries."

The team is confident that its invention will not be prone to damage by bending, and has even suggested more alterations to make the cells bigger and perhaps more effective.

By increasing the size of the solar cells, they will become even less vulnerable to damage and therefore be more useful on the commercial market.

Further changes also need to be made to raise the rate at which the cells convert sunlight into electricity.

Just one question remains: when can we expect to see this invention put to practical use?

The experts anticipate it will be another five years or so… watch this space!

Posted by Mike Peacock

All solar power news categories

Government Rebate & Regulations
Solar Power & Technology

More Solar Power & Technology

Australia to be a part of huge Asian renewable energy growth
SunPower steps up to make solar more affordable
Canberra makes strides toward carbon neutrality
GTM puts solar's massive growth in perspective
Examining Australia's falling solar PV rooftop prices
Australia's shift toward renewable energy picks up the pace
Australia shines at solar decathlon
University of Queensland tapped as lead researcher on massive solar project
100 per cent renewable energy is possible in 10 years, environmental group says
Climate Commission releases report on solar progress
Aussie government actually shows spine for solar power
Be gone, skeptics: One million solar installations and counting
Australia embarks on its greatest solar journey ever
Australia looks to solar thermal for commercial success
Solar power helps King Island reach 100% sustainability
Australians 'heavy supporters of solar power'
Mildura solar plant officially unveiled
Solar power trumps other renewables in Australian minds
Sunshine Coast solar farm "fantastic initiative"
Sunshine Coast cashes in on namesake with solar plans
Energy storage 'could maximise solar power utility'
Solar powered family car - a world first?
Code of conduct for solar installers in the works
'Stop punishing households' for solar PV
Australian solar companies 'adjusting well'
Australian mining 'next solar frontier'
"Rooftop revolution" underway across Australia
Global PV market emerging from sluggish period
Royalla solar farm receives final approval
Leadership challenge a "debacle" for Australian solar power
Solar power giving global renewables a helping hand
Australia's largest CPV solar power plant up and running
Renewable energy misinformation "staggering"
CEC: Don't underestimate consumer desire for solar
Setting energy efficient examples on TV
Solar PV brightening up household bills
World's largest solar powered boat on the move
Climate change is heating up
The global solar power shift
New solar tech win for NSW
Industry orgs praise City of Sydney solar efforts
Clean Energy Council supports Regional Renewables scheme
Asian nations emerging as PV leaders
Solar PV demand continues to grow
Regional areas of Australia to receive more renewables
Australia's significant renewable energy growth
Solar panel reprieve for Queensland
New funding for solar research
Find love with sustainable speed dating
New Victorian solar power deal
 To get your quotes, please enter your postcode: