Friday, 29 July 2011

Paper airplanes with MIT solar technology can make electricity

A research team from the MIT has developed a flexible and extremely thin solar technology that, when printed, looks like an ordinary document ready to be stapled and turned in as homework.

But when wires are clipped to one end of a floppy sheet and set in the sun, it can power an LCD clock display and other small “gizmos,” researchers said. The technology may help push the solar industry away from hulking, expensive installations and toward options that can easily generate renewable electricity anywhere.

Using vaporous “inks” made from common elements rather than pricey, toxic components like tellurium, solar cells are deposited onto plain, untreated paper -- including tissue, tracing paper and even newsprint.

The process, which is similar to the one used to make the shiny interior of potato chip bags, is nearly as simple as ink-jet printing -- just with a vacuum chamber thrown in.

The pages can be molded into paper airplanes and still generate electricity when unfolded. They’re also long-lasting, according to researchers, who tested cells produced last year.

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