One of humanity’s biggest concerns right now is getting more power. We’ve seen countless studies in which experimenters are trying to develop increasingly more efficient power cells and energy storage devices. Even current pop culture is embracing the trend (you know what I’m talking about, Arrow fans). Although anyone could technically come up with a new breakthrough in the field, it’s more likely that someone with the appropriate background should do it; so, a team from MIT creates minuscule solar power cell.
It might not sound that impressive, I know. But that is only because you haven’t read more about it. So, let’s get on our way. The reason why the achievement is so unbelievably impressive is because the new solar power cell is about a fifth of the width of a single strand of hair.
The photovoltaic cell is in fact so lightweight that it can easily rest on top of a soap bubble without popping it. It’s so small and unobtrusive that it can be placed literally anywhere and unless you know what to look, you won’t be able to notice it.
Of course, its applications are endless. It can be used for pretty much any electronic device, or anything that requires a power source. The single biggest issue about the device is that it is quite difficult to manufacture, and that it will take a while before the MIT team responsible for it comes up with a way to have it mass produced.
Because of all the technical details about how the device was made, I will try to keep it as simple as possible, using as little techno babble as I can. The issue is that the device was grown instead of built, made out of organic material, and using some particularly complicated techniques. So here goes nothing.
Vapor deposition techniques were used to grow the substrate and the cell itself together. Then, the team used complex chemical reactions, heat, and pressure to create a coating for the two. The cell and the substrate were grown together in order to protect them and the support system from dust and other contaminants.
The MIT crew used a flexible polymer called parylene as both the coating and the substrate. As for the cell itself, the main layer, the team used an organic material called DBP, or dibutyl phthalate. The materials themselves aren’t innovative, but the technique of growing the cell and substrate together is.
Because of this, it will take quite a while to ready the process for mass production.
Image source: Pixabay