For years, researchers have sought to develop a solar fabric that is wearable. The solar fabric would be pliable, portable, lightweight, wearable, and capable of capturing more of the sun’s energy since it would capture sunlight from multiple angles.
Most solar fabric innovations have been comprised of printing solar cells onto regular fabrics or weaving solar technology into the fabrics. An international team of engineers and scientists have created a way to construct fibers that behave as self-contained solar cells. This makes the fabric a solar technology unto itself. The fibers are photovoltaic – just like solar cells used in solar panels – and may one day lead to electricity-generating fabrics for clothing, outdoor equipment, and a host of other products.
The engineers and scientists used high-pressure chemistry to merge optical fibers with microchips in order to deposit semiconductors into tiny holes in the fibers. Their latest research phase involves using high-pressure chemistry to create the silicon fiber out of crystalline silicon semiconductor materials, thereby turning the fiber into a solar cell.
If this technology works and is deemed feasible, these solar fibers might become wearable sources of power for soldiers who have to carry heavy batteries for electronics. The fibers could even become Kevlar material on spacecraft.