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Organic Solar Cell Glasses Generate Power Indoors

Organic Solar Cell Glasses Generate Power Indoors


The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

How would you like a wearable device with heads-up display functionality that’s not half as dorky as Google Glasses? Well, the prototype Solar Glasses from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology isn’t ready for public consumption, but it does prove that you can wear a nifty widget on your face without violating all norms of fashion and good taste. And they work indoors.

The Solar Glasses use organic solar cell lenses to generate enough power to run small electronics (the prototype uses the excess juice to display the solar illumination intensity and ambient temperature). The lenses are 1.6 millimeters thick and weigh about six grams, making them a perfect fit for normal commercial frames.

Why organic solar cells? According to KIT’s press release, “Organic solar cells are flexible, transparent, and light-weight – and can be manufactured in arbitrary shapes or colors. Thus, they are suitable for a variety of applications that cannot be realized with conventional silicon solar cells.”

And the glasses can still function in less-than-optimal lighting conditions. The prototype can generate power indoors, under illumination down to 500 Lux.

But the greater application has little to do with wearables, and it involves deploying organic solar cells on a large, industrial scale.

“Since the glass facades of high-rise buildings must often be shaded, it is an obvious option to use organic solar modules for transforming the absorbed light into electric power,” according to the press release.

“A future vision for the engineer, who works on the basic understanding of organic solar cell and semiconductor components at the Material Research Center for Energy Systems, is to coat large surfaces with organic solar cells using reel-to-reel technology.”