AsianScientist (May 19, 2014) – Chinese researchers have developed efficient solar cells based on flexible textile electrodes that can be integrated into fabrics. This research has been published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
Thread-like solar cells that can be woven into textiles have previously been produced by twisting two electrically conducting fibers together as electrodes. However, it has proven difficult to make efficient, thread-shaped electrodes of a sufficient length. Furthermore, the wire-shaped cells are limited to lengths of a few millimeters and it is difficult to connect a large number of wire-shaped solar cells to generate adequate power.
A team from Fudan University and Tongji University in Shanghai has developed an alternative approach for the production of flexible solar cells that can be integrated into fabrics. Their method is based on textile electrodes that are stacked into layers.
Solar cells need a working electrode that captures light, as well as a counter electrode and an electrolyte. Researchers led by Dr. Peng Huisheng produced a working electrode composed of titanium wires woven into a fabric and perpendicularly layered with titanium dioxide nanotubes filled with light-absorbing dye.
For the counter electrode, the researchers produced layers of highly parallel carbon nanotubes that were then twisted into fine threads with a high degree of mechanical strength and woven into a textile. The working electrode and counter electrode were stacked on top of each other and the double layer was soaked with a liquid electrolyte and sealed or equipped with a solid electrolyte.
The resulting layered solar cell showed higher energy conversion efficiency than conventional planar solar cells due to its ability to capture incident light at multiple angles. The electrodes also work well when they are bent, which allows the them to be easily integrated into knit fabrics or other flexible structures. By using several small textile solar cells, the researchers were able to power an LED.
The article can be found at: Pan et al. (2014) Wearable Solar Cells by Stacking Textile Electrodes.
Source: Angewandte Chemie.
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