The Nottingham Trent University has developed a technology to embed miniaturized solar cells into yarn which can be further knitted or woven into textiles.
These tiny solar cells embedded into clothes will generate electricity on the move that will be enough to charge a mobile phone. The revolutionary technology has already been tested and proven to charge a mobile and Fitbit.
These cells embedded in clothes will not effect the comfort and aesthetic property of a garment. These are encapsulated in resin which allows the fabric to be washed and worn like any other form of clothing. Also, the extremely small size of the cell measuring only 3 millimeter in length and 1.5 millimeter in width, makes them almost invisible to naked eye and cannot be felt by the wearer.
“By embedding miniaturised solar cells into yarn we can create clothing and fabric that generate power in a sustainable way. The clothing would look and behave like any other textile, but within the fibres would be a network of miniaturized cells which are creating electricity.” said, Project lead Professor Tilak Dias, of the School of Art and Design.
“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,” Dias added.
The university’s Advanced Textiles Research Group made a proof of concept textile of 5cm by 5cm size with 200 cells. These 200 cells can generate 2.5-10 volts and up to 80 miliwats in power. Researchers claims that 2000 solar cells incorporated into a textile are enough to generate power to charge a mobile phone.
“This is an exciting technology which could revolutionize the way we think about solar power, clothing and wearable technology. With the availability of miniaturized solar cells we can generate power in a range of new ways, by utilizing things like clothing, fashion accessories, textiles and more.” – Researcher Achala Satharasinghe, who developed the prototype as part of his PhD at the university.
“It will allow mobile devices to be charged in environmentally-friendly ways which are more convenient for consumers than ever before,” Satharasinghe said.