Foldable Solar Energy

In early-February, according to journalist, Sladiana Diunisic, an international team at Pusan National University in South Korea released a prototype of solar cells that were “flexible enough to be folded over 10,000 times” while boasting a significant amount of conversion efficiency.

According to Intelligent Living, “Such [foldable] panels would simplify storage and transportation and integration into everyday devices” such as cars, buses, windows, cellular devices and yes, even our clothes.

South Korea’s team at Pusan National University used conductive films made of single-walled carbon nanotubes, according to Andrea D. Steffen. She states, “They are thin, transparent, mechanically resilient, and flexible – all the properties required for an efficient foldable conductor.”

And the wonderfully talented engineers embedded the film into a polyimide substrate, filling the aforementioned nanotubes’ void spaces so it could adhere to the base, sans chemicals. “Then, they doped it with molybdenum oxide to increase its conductivity. The molybdenum oxide reduces the energy needed for electrons to move across the structure so that the cells can generate more charge from the current.”

Michael Irving, journalist, states that South Korea’s researchers were able to, in the end, produce a solar cell that was seven micrometers thick and “could fold to a radius of just 0.5 mm.”

Strong and mighty but also very tiny, foldable solar panels may be coming to a home, or pair of jeans, sooner than you think. Stay tuned.