Solar cells based on stacked textile electrodes for integration into fabrics
Your tablet on your jacket sleeve, your smartphone in your watch—conventional batteries are not practicable for ever-lighter wearable electronic devices. A possible alternative is solar cells in the form of a textile that can simple be integrated into clothing. In the journal Angewandte Chemie Chinese researchers have now introduced novel, efficient solar cells based on stable, flexible textile electrodes that can be integrated into fabrics.
Various types of threadlike solar cells that can be woven into textiles have previously been produced by twisting two electrically conducting fibers together as electrodes. Practical application of these has been hampered by the fact that it is difficult to make long, efficient, thread-shaped electrodes.
The wire-shaped cells are limited to lengths of a few millimeters. It has also been difficult to connect a larger number of crossed wire-shaped solar cells that have been woven into electronic textiles.
A team from Fudan University and Tongii University in Shanghai has now 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 Huisheng Peng produced their working electrode by weaving titanium wires with a diameter of 130 µm into a fabric. They then used an electrochemical process to grow a layer of parallel titanium dioxide nanotubes perpendicular to the wires.
In a final step, a special dye was introduced into the titanium dioxide nanotubes. 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, which were in turn woven into a textile.
One layer each of 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.
When the dye molecules are excited by light, they to release electrons into the conducting band of the titanium dioxide. These charges are carried away through the titanium wires and through an attached external circuit to the counter electrode. The electrolyte takes up electrons from the counter electrode by means of a redox reaction, transferring them back to the ionized dye molecules.
The stacked textile electrodes also work well when they are bent, which allows the textile solar cells 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.
About the Author
Dr. Huisheng Peng is professor in the Department of Macromolecular Science at Fudan University, and has focused on the development of wearable energy devices. He has received over twenty national and international honors and awards including the Chinese Young Scientist Award and Chinese Chemical Society Prize for Young Scientists.
Author: Huisheng Peng, Fudan University, Shanghai (China), http://www.polymer.fudan.edu.cn/polymer/research/Penghs/member_en.htm
Title: Wearable Solar Cells by Stacking Textile Electrodes
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201402561
Dr. Huisheng Peng | Angewandte Chemie
27.03.2015 | Oak Ridge National Laboratory
How did the chicken cross the sea?
27.03.2015 | Michigan State University
In an experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as...
The IPH presents a solution at HANNOVER MESSE 2015 to make ship traffic more reliable while decreasing the maintenance costs at the same time. In cooperation with project partners, the research institute from Hannover, Germany, has developed a sensor system which continuously monitors the condition of the marine gearbox, thus preventing breakdowns. Special feature: the monitoring system works wirelessly and energy-autonomously. The required electrical power is generated where it is needed – directly at the sensor.
As well as cars need to be certified regularly (in Germany by the TÜV – Technical Inspection Association), ships need to be inspected – if the powertrain stops...
When an earthquake hits, the faster first responders can get to an impacted area, the more likely infrastructure--and lives--can be saved.
The Atlantic overturning is one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards. Also known as the Gulf Stream system, it is responsible for the mild climate in northwestern Europe.
Scientists now found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning – multiple lines of observation suggest that in recent decades, the current system has been...
Because they are regularly subjected to heavy vehicle traffic, emissions, moisture and salt, above- and underground parking garages, as well as bridges, frequently experience large areas of corrosion. Most inspection systems to date have only been capable of inspecting smaller surface areas.
From April 13 to April 17 at the Hannover Messe (hall 2, exhibit booth C16), engineers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP will be...
25.03.2015 | Event News
19.03.2015 | Event News
17.03.2015 | Event News
27.03.2015 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
27.03.2015 | Materials Sciences
27.03.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation