When you think of a solar cell, you probably picture the big, dark boxy things that adorn rooftops. But the solar cells of the future will look a lot like the incredibly thin fiber above. An international team of bright minds has been working on developing a fiber optic solar cell that is thin, flexible, and can be woven into garments. The new solar cell could eventually be used to make wearable power sources that could keep soldiers connected no matter where they are.
The new type of solar cell is made in a way that is not entirely dissimilar to how traditional planar solar cells are produced. But according to the team, the glass optical fibers remain flexible enough to be woven into textiles without causing any noticeable loss of flexibility in the finished garments. Aside from powering soldiers’ gadgets, the new type of solar cell could charge smartphones or other mobile devices – or even provide power for biomedical devices.