Sandia National Laboratories has created solar power cells so small it calls them “glitter-sized.” And they look like snowflakes. AND they’re just as efficient as normal solar cells, all while using one-hundredth of the material that a normal solar cell would use to create the same amount of energy.
The drawback, as with much solar technology, is that right now creating these cells requires cutting-edge techniques — microelectronic and microelectromechanical, in this case — that make production expensive. But the Sandia creators expect the price to come down enough that one day we’ll be wearing solar panels around like they’re jewelry. Lead investigator Greg Nielson explained in a statement:
“Eventually units could be mass-produced and wrapped around unusual shapes for building-integrated solar, tents and maybe even clothing,” he said. This would make it possible for hunters, hikers or military personnel in the field to recharge batteries for phones, cameras and other electronic devices as they walk or rest.
Whatever, screw hunters — we’re imagining shiny, fancy dresses in which the glitter and sequins are actually functional.
Get Grist in your inbox