There was a solar technology invented at Sandia National Laboratories called “solar glitter.” These miniature, flexible solar cells can be integrated into an object regardless of shape or size and turn it solar powered.
Sandia’s solar glitter, also known as “Dragon SCALEs,” was invented years ago but has just become part of a licensing agreement with mPower Technology. The tiny solar cells include technology called microsystems enabled photovoltaics (MEPV) and are made using microdesign and microfabrication techniques making them lightweight and flexible enough to be printed onto material like printing ink.
The possibilities are vast with this technology. It can be integrated into and power things like sensors, wearable electronics, drones, and satellites. Because of its flexibility, it can be used on any shaped surface and even for large-scale projects such as solar power systems on buildings. The Dragon SCALEs can even be folded and used as portable energy generators.
“The key limitation to silicon is that if you bend and flex it, it will crack and shatter,” said Murat Okandan, founder and CEO of mPower. “Our technology makes it virtually unbreakable while keeping all the benefits of high efficiency, high reliability silicon PV. It allows us to integrate PV in ways that weren’t possible before, such as in flexible materials, and deploy it faster in lighter-weight, larger-area modules.”
Solar power prices have already dropped significantly in the past few years, allowing for the increase of solar installations around the world. Solar glitter has the possibilities to push progress even farther.