Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Jan 01

Revolutionary Tiny Solar Cells

Posted in Future Technology | Photovoltaic Cells | Solar Power

Tiny Solar Cells Tiny, glitter-sized solar cells have been developed by the Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories. It might turn out to be the perfect alternative energy preference for the holiday season. This project is funded by the American government. The dimensions of the snowflake sized crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cells are merely 14-20 micrometers thick and measure 0.25 to 1 millimeters across i.e. only 10% as thick as regular ones. They also consume an estimated 100 times less silicon to produce the same amount of electricity compared to standard solar cells. Their efficiency level is 14.9%.

The USP of the snowflake sized crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cells is their size. Because of their infinitesimally small size, the glitter solar particles can be installed in a wide range of products needing energy. Another USP of the snowflake sized crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cells is they have the capability to fit into any given pattern shape or size such as fabrics. So they will convert your clothes into solar power generators. If we ponder a bit and visualize these tiny, glitter-sized solar cells can turn a person into a walking solar battery charger if they are fitted into clothing.

Because of their minuscule size they are also less prone to shading and heating effects. Their built-in tiny electrical contacts also make them sturdy and durable. Shade and heat often hinders the performance of larger solar cell performance. The sequin-like solar cell technology hopefully will soon appear on from high-tech items such as satellites to right on down to back-backers’ tents to help recharge electronics. If everything goes right these cells can revolutionize the way solar energy is used.

These cells attain their minuscule size due to the application of the techniques like microelectronic and micro electromechanical systems (MEMS). There techniques are usually applied to make today’s electronic circuits. Greg Nielson is the lead investigator of this project. According to him, the research team has identified more than 20 benefits of scale for its micro photovoltaic (MPV) cells. Manufacturers often look for new applications, improved performance, reduced costs and higher efficiencies in a product because these qualities help them produce and market a product easily. Researcher Murat Okandan also comes forth with his views, “For large-scale power generation one of the biggest benefits is a significant reduction in manufacturing and installation costs compared with current solar cell techniques.”

Greg Nielson says, “Eventually units could be mass-produced and wrapped around any shape including building-integrated solar, tents and even clothing.”

These tiny, glitter-sized solar cells can be utilized by different walks of life such as hunters, hikers or military personnel. They are often away from the usual amenities of the cities. In the field they can utilize tiny, glitter-sized solar cells to recharge batteries for phones, cameras and other electronic devices as they move or sleep. Even better, such micro engineered panels could have circuits imprinted that would help perform other functions.

Vipin Gupta is the Sandia’s field engineer. He shares his opinion, “Photovoltaic modules made from these micro sized cells for the rooftops of homes and warehouses could have intelligent controls, inverters and even storage built in at the chip level.”

  • Gary

    Interesting article. My question is how are the cells controlled such that they can be connected and generate needed voltages and currents? I’m thinking the small size will be hard to control in manufacturing.

  • Paul

    What are the ramifications for home solar power? Could more cells be used to power a house? Would the cost be cheap enough eventually to overcome the current limitation of houses needing to face north/south for maximum efficiency?

  • Cindy Shollenberger

    I suppose we now have a new and different way of putting out those holiday decorations. Seriously, I like the idea that these are not so incredibly bulky and pose new and different methods of using their energy.


    Would have been nice to see some real specs like how much power you get from each one and how many you would need to mount for say a 100 watt panel.

  • al

    I would not be worried about controlling the size of small particles – for decades the photographic film industry has been creating controlled “particle size distributions” of silber halide crystals by empirical bucket chemistry, only recently somewhat subjected to some control via redox potential methods. HOWEVER, the words “could”, “might” etc… in the article suggest that at present it is more wishful thinking than realizable reproducible manufacturing and implementation technology.

  • Stephen Salgaller

    Texas Instruments IC inventor Jack Kilby created BB sized solar cells back in 1985, but his great idea was never produced; costs go down with smaller cells.

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