Sandia National Laboratories scientists have developed tiny glitter-sized photovoltaic cells that could revolutionize the way solar energy is collected and used. The tiny cells could turn a person into a walking solar battery charger if they were fastened to flexible substrates molded around unusual shapes, such as clothing.
The solar particles, fabricated of crystalline silicon, hold the potential for a variety of new applications. They are expected eventually to be less expensive and have greater efficiencies than current photovoltaic collectors that are pieced together with six-inch-square solar wafers. The cells are fabricated using microelectronic and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) techniques common to today’s electronic foundries.