Nottingham Trent University has recently developed a way to embed miniaturised solar cells into yarn that can then be knitted and woven into textiles. Clothing embedded with tiny solar cells the size of a flea can allow wearers to generate electricity on the move and charge items like mobile phones and smartwatches. The cells are encapsulated in a resin which allows the textile fabric to be washed and worn like any other form of clothing. Measuring only three millimetres in length and 1.5 millimetres in width, the cells are almost invisible to the naked eye and cannot be felt by the wearer.
The research group from the University states that up to 200 miniaturised cells can generate 2.5-10 volts and up to 80 miliwatts in power. The university’s Advanced Textiles Research Group made a proof of concept textile of 5cm by 5cm size with 200 cells. Accordingly, the team says that 2,000 solar cells being incorporated into a textile would generate enough power to charge a smart phone.
With the availability of miniaturised solar cells, it could be possible to generate power in a range of new ways, by utilising things like clothing, fashion accessories, textiles and more. And moreover, it will allow mobile devices to be charged in environmentally-friendly ways.