SCIENCE

Soap Bubble Solar Cells Created By Scientists

  • Mary Nichols , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Feb, 29, 2016, 01:09 PM
Tags : science
Soap Bubble
(Photo : Getty Images/Matt Cardy) Scientists have developed a photovoltaic cell that is so flexible and lightweight that it can be placed on top of a soap bubble.

Scientists have developed a photovoltaic cell that is so flexible and lightweight that it can be placed on top of a soap bubble.

The new solar cell could revolutionize the use of solar energy. Measuring just one-fifth the thickness of human hair, it could be utilized in any product - including clothing or smartphones, writes Tech Times.

The solar cells are so light could easily be incorporated into products unnoticed.

"It could be so light that you don't even know it's there, on your shirt or on your notebook," said one of the researchers, Vladimir Bulović from MIT, in a press release. "These cells could simply be an add-on to existing structures."

The versatility of the newly developed solar cells is an exciting breakthrough for researchers. The key to the development of the ultralight cell was an all-in-one process, which included creating the protective coating and supporting substrate as well as the solar cell within a vacuum chamber.

Researchers used a method known as vapor deposition to develop the cell and substrate - ensuring they grew together. Pressure, heat and chemical reactions are used to create a protective coating for a material using this method.

Developing the substrate and the cell together helps to form a protective coating, which keeps contaminants including dust out of the cells support system. Researchers used Parylene, which is a flexible polymer, as the material for the substrate as well as the coating. The main layer, which gives the cell its light absorbing properties, was created using an organic material called dibutyl phthalate or DBP.

The researchers said that the method to create the cells was the part that led to the breakthrough. Just like other solar cells, the new lightweight solar cell has the ability to effectively convert light into energy.

"The innovative step is the realization that you can grow the substrate at the same time as you grow the device," Bulović said in a press release.

While the new solar cells could be utilized in many different endeavors, including space travel, producing the cells on a mass scale for commercial use will take time.

The study was published in the journal Organic Electronics.

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