New Fabric Generates Solar Energy
Scientists at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology have developed a material that works like a luminescent solar concentrator for producing energy directly where needed that can even be applied to textiles. Because people are constantly on the move and dependent on a power supply to recharge smartphones, tablets and laptops, the needed electricity will come from our clothing by means of the new polymer applied on textile fibers, jackets and T-shirts.
Based on amphiphilic polymer co-networks already available on the market in the form of silicone-hydrogel contact lenses, this new material is permeable to air and water vapor, as well as flexible and stable. The luminescent solar concentrators capture and transfer diffuse ambient light to a solar cell that converts it into electrical energy. By adding two different luminescent materials to the gel tissue, the solar concentrator becomes flexible, preventing the textile to which it is attached from becoming brittle or susceptible to cracking, or accumulating water vapor in the form of sweat.