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15 November 2006 Photovoltaic fibers
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Abstract
It was realized early in the history of Konarka that the ability to produce fibers that generate power from solar energy could be applied to a wide variety of applications where fabrics are utilized currently. These applications include personal items such as jackets, shirts and hats, to architectural uses such as awnings, tents, large covers for cars, trucks and even doomed stadiums, to indoor furnishings such as window blinds, shades and drapes. They may also be used as small fabric patches or fiber bundles for powering or recharging batteries in small sensors. Power generating fabrics for clothing is of particular interest to the military where they would be used in uniforms and body armor where portable power is vital to field operations. In strong sunlight these power generating fabrics could be used as a primary source of energy, or they can be used in either direct sunlight or low light conditions to recharge batteries. Early in 2002, Konarka performed a series of proof-of-concept experiments to demonstrate the feasibility of building a photovoltaic cell using dye-sensitized titania and electrolyte on a metal wire core. The approach taken was based on the sequential coating processes used in making fiber optics, namely, a fiber core, e.g., a metal wire serving as the primary electrode, is passed through a series of vertically aligned coating cups. Each of the cups contains a coating fluid that has a specific function in the photocell. A second wire, used as the counter electrode, is brought into the process prior to entering the final coating cup. The latter contains a photopolymerizable, transparent cladding which hardens when passed through a UV chamber. Upon exiting the UV chamber, the finished PV fiber is spooled. Two hundred of foot lengths of PV fiber have been made using this process. When the fiber is exposed to visible radiation, it generates electrical power. The best efficiency exhibited by these fibers is 6% with an average value in the 4-5 % range.
© (2006) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Russell Gaudiana, Robert Eckert, John Cardone, James Ryan, and Alan Montello "Photovoltaic fibers", Proc. SPIE 6334, Organic Photovoltaics VII, 633401 (15 November 2006); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.683130
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