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BRIEF: Solar Cells That You Can Wear

BRIEF: Solar Cells That You Can Wear

A team of researchers developed solar cells and batteries that can be weaved into fabrics

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - 16:30

Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer

(Inside Science) -- A group of scientists from University of Central Florida in Orlando has developed a device that can simultaneously harvest and store energy from the sun. They described their findings earlier this month in the journal Nature Communications.

The thin, ribbon-like device contains solar cells on one side and an energy-storage layer on the other. A material this thin and flexible could be used to make solar powered wearables -- imagine an armband that charges your phone while you are jogging outside, a light winter coat with a self-powered heater, or a Kevlar jacket that can power a GPS device for a stranded soldier.

While scientists and engineers work to develop better and more efficient solar cells to power homes and businesses, this innovative device could increase the reach of solar power even beyond the immediate application as wearables. With smaller and more efficient solar cells and energy storage devices, new technologies can become more practical in the future, such as solar powered cars and even planes.

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Yuen Yiu covers the Physics beat for Inside Science. He's a Ph.D. physicist and fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin. Follow Yuen on Twitter: @fromyiutoyou.