Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tiny Solar Cells Built To Power Microscopic Machines

Date:
November 7, 2008
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
Some of the tiniest solar cells ever built have been successfully tested as a power source for even tinier microscopic machines -- for example, an inch-long array of 20 of these cells, each one about a quarter the size of a lowercase "o" in a standard 12-point font.

Some of the tiniest solar cells ever built have been successfully tested as a power source for even tinier microscopic machines. An article in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy (JRSE), published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), describes an inch-long array of 20 of these cells -- each one about a quarter the size of a lowercase "o" in a standard 12-point font.

Related Articles


The cells were made of an organic polymer and were joined together in an experiment aimed at proving their ability to power tiny devices that can be used to detect chemical leaks and for other applications, says Xiaomei Jiang, who led the research at the University of South Florida.

Traditional solar cells, such as the commercial type installed on rooftops, use a brittle backing made of silicon, the same sort of material upon which computer chips are built. By contrast, organic solar cells rely upon a polymer that has the same electrical properties of silicon wafers but can be dissolved and printed onto flexible material.

"I think these materials have a lot more potential than traditional silicon," says Jiang. "They could be sprayed on any surface that is exposed to sunlight -- a uniform, a car, a house."

Jiang and her colleagues fabricated their array of 20 tiny solar cells as a power source for running a microscopic sensor for detecting dangerous chemicals and toxins. The detector, known as a microeletromechanical system (MEMS) device, is built with carbon nanotubes and has already been tested using ordinary DC power supplied by batteries. When fully powered and hooked into a circuit, the carbon nanotubes can sensitively detect particular chemicals by measuring the electrical changes that occur when chemicals enter the tubes. The type of chemical can be distinguished by the exact change in the electrical signal.

The device needs a 15-volt power source to work, so far and Jiang's solar cell array can provide about half of that -- up to 7.8 volts in their laboratory tests. The next step, she says, is to optimize the device to increase the voltage and then combine the miniature solar array to the carbon nanotube chemical sensors. Jiang estimates they will be able to demonstrate this level of power with their next generation solar array by the end of the year.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jason Lewis, Jian Zhang, and Xiaomei Jiang. Fabrication of organic solar array for applications in microelectromechanical systems. Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, 2009; 1 (1): 013101 DOI: 10.1063/1.2998825

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Tiny Solar Cells Built To Power Microscopic Machines." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081106121938.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2008, November 7). Tiny Solar Cells Built To Power Microscopic Machines. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081106121938.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Tiny Solar Cells Built To Power Microscopic Machines." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081106121938.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins