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New Waterproof Solar Cells Invigorate The Fashion Industry

By Brian Spaen

Solar cell technology has improved to become thin and stretchable, and now it’s made another major breakthrough. Researchers from Japan have been able to coat ultra thin photovoltaic cells with waterproof film, meaning that it can be placed in water and still generate electricity from the sun. With this discovery, it could potentially place solar cells in our clothing.

Scientists from the University of Tokyo and RIKEN have been attempting to create a better way to charge wearable devices. Being able to monitor your health with a jacket or a pair of yoga pants aiding in a workout session can be beneficial, but it won’t help if the battery is dead. Solar cells right on clothes could be a viable solution, provided, of course, that they’d be able to survive the wear and tear of our daily lives.

In order to keep these cells durable and efficient, they used flexible, organic PV cells based from PNTz4T material in parylene film. It was then coated with an elastomer textile fiber on both sides to prevent any water and air from coming in, yet it’s still clear enough to pick up the sun’s rays. The result was stretchy clothing that was able to generate electricity.