By integrating photovoltaic cells directly into electronics, it could eliminate the need for even rechargeable batteries.
There are a plethora of solar-powered devices on the market today, but most depend on an inconvenient two-part design: some time of solar panel to catch the sun and a battery to store the collected power. While it eliminates the need for an electrical outlet, this design still requires downtime while the battery charges to a sufficient level.
A new system devised by researchers at the University of Twente's MESA+ Institute of Nanotechnology places high-efficiency solar cells straight onto the electronics instead, eliminating the wait, the cord, and the battery in one fell swoop.
To construct the self-powering chips, researchers decided to use solar cells made of amorphous silicon or CIGS (copper - indium - gallium - selenide). The manufacturing procedure for these cells does not influence the electronics, and they are able to produce sufficient power, even in low, indoor light.
Tests have shown that the electronics and the solar cells function properly, and the manufacturing process is also highly suitable for industrial serial production with the use of standard processes.
It seems like the idea of objects that generate their own power, be they subway cars, home windows, or high-speed trains, is really taking off in the tech community. One day, the idea of "plugging something in" or "recharging batteries" may be as obsolete as the 8-track.
Image Credit: Flickr – DJ-Dwayne