Charge Your Phone And iPod Under Sun When You Walk Outdoors

by Rohit Khurana on July 30, 2010


Have you faced a situation where you run out of batteries outdoors when you need them all the more ? What I am sharing below is not a science fiction but a feasible technology which already exists but is slightly expansive as of now, a new research had open whole lot of possibilities of using solar power in an affordable and portable way. This is a guest article on a new technology on solar power by Sophia H. Walker.

solar charging

image credit: flickr

College of southern California researchers show us a more successful use of graphene photovoltaics. Could you imagine people powering their cellular or music/video device while jogging under the sun? A University of Southern California team has produced flexible transparent carbon atom films that may have great potential for a brand new variety of solar cells. In a paper recently published by the journal ACS Nano, researchers stated that organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells have been proposed as a way to obtain affordable energy due to their ease of manufacture, light weight, and compatibility with flexible substrates.

This work shows that graphene, a highly conductive and highly transparent kind of carbon consisting of atoms-thick sheets of carbon atoms, has high possibility to fill this role. While graphene’s existence has been known for many years, it has only been studied extensively since 2004 because of the impracticality of manufacturing it in high quality and in quantity. The University of southern California team has produced graphene/polymer sheets ranging in sizes approximately 150 square centimeters that in turn can be used to create dense arrays of flexible organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells.


These organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices convert solar radiation to electricity, although not as efficiently as silicon cells. The power provided by sunlight on a sunny day is around 1,000 watts per meter square, for every 1,000 watts of sunlight that hits a square meter area of the standard silicon solar cell, 14 watts of electricity will be generated, Organic solar cells are less efficient; their conversion rate for that same 1,000 watts of sunlight in the graphene-based solar cell would be only 1.3 watts. But what graphene organic photovoltaic (OPV) lack in efficiency, can potentially be compensated by its lower price and, greater physical flexibility. Researchers think it can eventually be possible to cover with inexpensive solar cell layers extensive areas like newspapers, magazines or power generating clothing.

In the meanwhile Prof. Ruoff and his colleagues of the mechanical engineering department at the University of Texas at Austin, are studying the basic science in the development of graphene-based ultracapacitors for usage in electronics and other fields. Prof. Ruoff says batteries are relatively slow, they can store energy but take time to charge up, and then they distribute energy slowly, in time. Ultracapacitors can be charged in a short time, in seconds, and discharge very quickly, but, at this time, they’re not able to store very much electrical energy.

The development of stable and cheaper ultracapacitors is seen as a key step in using wind or solar-generated power, specially if researchers will find solutions to enable capacitors to store energy longer, which is not yet possible. Even with their current storage capacity, the graphene devices could provide quick energy when needed in certain situations on the eco-friendly way. They may be used, as an example, to absorb the heat generated in braking a car or train, and store it for a short time, and then use it for the electrical needs of the vehicle (i.e. starting the car or acceleration) .

About the Author – Sophia H. Walker writes for the solar charger blog, her personal hobby weblog focused on tips to help individuals save energy using solar energy for small gadgets.

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