The researchers at MIT outdid themselves by producing a solar cell so small, thin and light, that it can stand on a soap bubble without popping it!
The cell could be the first of its kind in the world, being able to offer more green energy than most of its “peers”. Vladimir Bulovic, the associate dean for innovation, research scientist Annie Wang, and doctoral student Joel Jean spend years developing the tiny one, by combining 3 steps into one and finalizing the product in a vacuum. The final result is just 2 micrometers thick!
This breakthrough is not just cool to watch but is an amazing advancement in energy-driven devices. Most silicon-based solar cells give about 15-watts of power per kilogram, but the ones made with flexible parylene can offer 6 watts per gram, which is 400 times more! This means they could be used successfully in wearables and smartphones, but more traditional vehicles too, like spacecrafts and baloons. Since these solar cells weigh so little, they wouldn’t have an appreciable impact on the weight of machines.
We’ll have to wait a long time until we see them embedded in devices, unfortunately. Bulovic and his team’s product is a mere concept of what can be done.