Researchers Develop Method to Embed Flea-sized Solar Panels in Clothes

Researchers Develop Method to Embed Flea-sized Solar Panels in Clothes

Researchers embed flea-sized solar cells in clothes using a novel method, according to a report published on December 13, 2018.

This development was made by researchers at the Nottingham Trent University. Clothes integrated with tiny solar cells will allow wearers to generate electricity and charge electronics such as mobile phones and smartwatches.

This new technology is tested and proven to charge a mobile phone and a Fitbit. The solar cells are encapsulated in a resin, which allows the textile fabric to be washed and worn like any other form of clothing. The cells are only three millimetres in length and 1.5 millimetres in width, and are almost invisible to the naked eye. The wearer cannot feel the cells. These garments with solar cells appear exactly the same as any other form of clothing.

Professor Tilak Dias, lead of the project said, “By embedding miniaturized solar cells into yarn we can create clothing and fabric that generate power in a sustainable way. This could do away with the need to plug items into wall sockets and reduce the demand on the grid while cutting carbon emissions. The electrical power demand for smart e-textiles has always been its Achilles heel and this technology will allow people to use smart textiles while on the move.”

2.5-10 volts and up to 80 miliwatts in power can be generated by around 200 miniaturized cells. A proof of concept textile of 5cm by 5cm size was made by the university’s Advanced Textiles Research Group with 200 cells. Researchers said that textile integrated with 2,000 cells will be capable of charging a smartphone.