A solar cell that can be put in the washing machine - Green Ecologist

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Washable solar cells

Scientists from the RIKEN company and the University of Tokyo have developed a new type of solar cell ultra-thin, covered on both sides with stretchable and waterproof film, which can continue to supply electricity from sunlight even after it has been submerged in water, and can also be compressed or stretched without any problem. The work has been published in Nature Energy.

This new technology on a ultra-thin photovoltaic device could pave the way to the requirements of technology based on the Internet of Things (Devices of all kinds that are directly connected to the Internet) where the need to create power supplies for a large number of new devices, even all those that can be wear on the body or on clothing.

For example with health issues, the sensors that record the heartbeat or body temperature and provide an alert when we have future medical problems, and at the end of the day, if we want, they can end up in the washing machine.

For the present project, the research members developed organic photovoltaic cells extremely flexible and thin, based on a material called PNTz4T, which they had developed in previous work. They deposited the device in a reverse architecture, which they had previously developed, on a 1-inch thick parylene film. The ultra-thin device was then placed on an acrylic elastomer and the top of the device was coated with an identical elastomer, giving it a coating on both sides to prevent water infiltration. The elastomer, while allowing light to enter, prevented water and air from entering the cells, making them more durable than previous experiments.

According to tests carried out with the new cells They have a strong energy efficiency of 7.9 percent, producing a current of 7.86 milliwatts per square centimeter, as the current density was 13.8 milliamps per square centimeter at 0.57 volts, based on a simulated sunlight of 100 milliwatts per square centimeter.

To test its water resistance, they soaked it in water for two hours and found that the efficiency dropped by just 5.4 percent. And to test durability, they put it into compression, and found that after compressing it almost in half for twenty cycles while putting water droplets on it, it was still eighty percent of the original efficiency. (Of interest also the solar panel that is rolled and transported)

Using this type of Solar cells in technological textiles it could revolutionize the concept of "portable devices" helping to find new applications that can be powered and washable in a simple way using this new technology.

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