New washable solar-powered fabric developed in United Kingdom
- The scientific group from NTU (England) has proven that a wearable PV device can be integrated into clothes. The innovative fabric has been based on µc-Si cells embedded into fibrous textile by means of super-thin copper wire. The newly created material is claimed to keep its efficiency after 6,000 abrasions, 25 handwashing and 15 machine washing cycles.
To create the innovative super-flexible and washable cloth, the developers have introduced the unbending photovoltaic cells into the yarns discontinuously. For this purpose, they have used an electro-yarn tech.
Tiny elements (0.2×3×1.5 millimeter) have been parallel-connected on 2 multi-strand Cu wires and enclosed in cylinder-shaped resin microcapsules. The 1.6-millimeter diameter capsules have been coated with textile fibers for making them look like normal wearable photovoltaic devices. Due to the sheath applied, the yarns can be colored any way, while keeping its solar performance.
The demo with an active size of 45.5×44.5 millimeter size consisted of 200 mini-cells. The fabric’s electrical parameters make it powerful enough for charging a smartphone.
The researchers claim the new material is suitable for wearing, taking into account deformation and varying illumination it will be subject to. Moreover, providing solar cell strings with bypass diodes can reduce the shade impact considerably.
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