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Micro-solar cells power up fabric

03 Jan 2013

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Collaboration between Industrial Technology Centre of Fukui Prefecture in Japan and Sphelar Power Corp. resulted in a successful prototype of an energy-harvesting fabric consisting of interweaved spherical solar cells, aptly branded as Sphelar cells. This breakthrough enables the possibility of powering up wearable electronics in various applications such as medical, safety and even costumes or theatre props.

micro-solar cell fabric

Sphelar Power developed the 3-D light capturing micro-solar cells, and the Industrial Technology Centre served as innovative R&D hub for local textile industries. According to Asahi Shimbun, each solar cell, with a diameter of 1.2mm, has an electrical output of 0.2mW during daytime on a clear day.

The basic structure of the fabric is composed of warp and energy generating woof. The 1.2-mm Sphelar cells are aligned and connected as a thread and woven as woof with supporting warp. The energy generating thread and the weaving technique are both developed in this project. The energy-harvesting fabric is less dependent on incoming light angle and enables light-through module.

 micro-solar cell fabric

A small LED, right, is illuminated on a fabric into which tiny spherical solar cells, left, are woven. (Credit: Reo Takahashi )

Sphelar Power and the Industrial Technology Centre will continue to develop this fabric and they aim to have samples available for shipping in a year.

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