A team of MIT researchers may have just changed the solar energy game as we know it.
A team of MIT scientists have made a stunning breakthrough that could one day revolutionize the energy industry as we know it. According to a report from the Daily Mail, scientists have addressed one of the biggest problems facing renewable energy technologies, and solar panels in particular – their cost.
Scientists have developed a solar cell that they claim is as light as a soap bubble. If proven effective, the energy-capturing material could be applied to any existing material, including electronics and clothing. The development could flip current energy paradigms on their head, leading to unimaginable savings in materials costs.
In a demonstration by MIT scientists, the solar cells were shown to be so light that they could balance on a soap bubble without causing it to pop. The panels were made from a common plastic called parylene, which served as an ultra-thin coating. To create the layer of the cell that captures light, researchers used a material known as DBP.
The new solar cells’ astonishingly low weight could be applied to every day objects that need a charge, all but eliminating the need for clunky batteries. The layer of parylene is just ten percent as thick as a single layer of plastic wrap.
The solar panels were demonstrated to produce six watts of power per gram, a level of efficiency never before seen in existing solar panels. Silicon-based cells, by contrast, only produce about 15 watts per kilogram of material.
In addition to charging devices here on the ground, the development could be applied to new technologies that will aid astronauts in future space exploration missions. Solar panels have been used on rockets and space stations for decades, and could provide a significant amount of power. The study was published in the journal Organic Electronics.
A press release from MIT describing the details of the recent development can be found here.