Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stanford Lab Makes Peel-And-Stick Solar Cells, Campus Remarks "That's Nice" After Rose Bowl Win

What's a good way to tell that the Gen Y-Millenials are growing up?  They're re-inventing the statement sticker .  Well, that and solar panels...

Researchers at Stanford University may have completely turned that field on its head with a new technique that creates peel-and-stick solar cells.  The cells can be applied to nearly any surface (roofs, vehicles, the bottom of a suburban, disenfranchised teenager's skateboard) and have the same energy storage capacity as a standard industry cell.

The simple-but-elegant-process involves applying a solar cell onto a nanometer thick layer of Nickel and Silicon, and then applying a thermal tape on top of the cell and protecting it from treatment in plastic.  After the layers are heated, the cell is peeled off the Nickel very carefully in water.   The tape is now sticky enough that the cell can be patted carefully onto any flat surface.

In addition to weirding out surrounding people in a public place, what if this Joker sticker powered your Mac book as well?  

And if you take a close look above at the image published along with the full report, you'll notice what kind of surface the researchers had in mind.

Solar-powered cell phones and tablets/laptops would save a monumental amount of energy, to say nothing of the overall economic and environmental savings in eliminating the need for chargers.  And this is only one example dozens of potential applications for this breakthrough.

Personally, I think the real potential lies in pairing this research with another project conducted in summer of 2012 by a team at Rice University that involved painting the layers of a battery onto almost any surface, making it conductive.    Imagine: a painted battery on your home's inner walls, solar cells adhered to the outer walls.  Instead of worrying how our homes can use the grid more effectively, perhaps the answer lies in our homes becoming the grid itself....

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company

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