What will be the face of energy consumption if the windows and inner walls of your home were covered with solar cells. A research team from Virginia tech recently showcased flexible solar cells that can easily replace your window shades as well as wallpapers. These can also trap light or recycle the light that comes from indoor light sources and sun. For this purpose, they employed a low-temperature screen printing method. They also used titanium oxide paste for building palm sized solar cells that are capable of generating approx. 75 milliwatts of power.
Calculating this rate, the team claims that the efficiency of these cells is nowhere less than that of the rigid solar cells. A flexible cell sized 11” X 8.5” can easily recharge a mobile phone, however, the time limit for the same is yet to be estimated. One of the best things about these new titanium-oxide based cells is that they have the ability to harvest a broad swath of electromagnetic spectrum which means the number of applications of these cells will be much higher as compared to their rigid counterparts. According to Shashank Priya, the lead researcher of this project, “The properties of the panels are such that there are really few limitations in terms of light source. And the fact that we are dealing with an emerging technology, means we will be able to expand the utility of the panels as we go forward.”
There is still a large room for improvement in these titanium-oxide based cells. But the good part is there low cost of production and amazing applicability make these ideal for several industrial uses. There are many organizations that have shown keen interest in testing out this technology. Priya’s lab is already working ahead on this project in association with U.S. Army’s Communications Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center for development of cells that can be instilled in military uniforms and other relevant gears such as backpacks. If these solar cells can find some utility in textiles, there will be no end to their benefits. This idea has enough potential to bring a paradigm shift in power generation world from non-recyclable fuels to recyclable materials.
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