A Turkish academic and her team are working hard to create the technology of processing the solar cell, which they embroidered on fabric and successfully managed to turn led lamps on and charge a battery, into disposable bioplastics that can be dissolved in water, in a goal to charge mobile phones with wearable and organic solar cells.
Yıldız Technical University (YTÜ) Faculty of Arts and Sciences Faculty Member professor Serap Güneş, won the “Academy 2022” award within the scope of the “Turkey's Energizing Women” awards organized by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, thanks to the solar energy project she developed with a team of seven people at YTÜ Organic Electronics Laboratory.
Güneş told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they set out to explore the technology after thinking whether they could both produce energy and perform daily routines with a solar panel weaved onto a shirt.
“The problem with wearable technologies is that the thin films you prepare spread over the entire surface of the fabric, you cannot spread them in a controlled manner. We thought that as a Velcro fabric, we should stick it, take it off, and not have any problems with washing,” she explained.
Emphasizing that the technology embroidered on the fabric is only one part of the work, Güneş pointed out that this technology can also harm the environment and stated that they turned their focus onto the production of the technology more with biomaterials instead of fabric for a more environmentally friendly outcome.
“This work has evolved in other directions, such as: Let's wear it like a raincoat or carry it on us like an umbrella. It attracted a lot of attention, we are currently continuing in this direction,” she said.
Güneş said that the bioplastic materials with which they process wearable technology dissolve in water and are immediately soluble in nature.
“You have produced your electricity, your work is done, wash it away, mix it with nature. It's like a disposable solar cell. We are heading toward this point right now. We charged a battery here, sometimes instead of charging your phone, you can charge your battery and use it to charge your phone. In daily use, there is still a little progress to be made to charge phones,” she outlined.
Güneş informed that the solar cell consists of semiconductor material technology sandwiched between two metal electrodes.
“We can easily produce these semiconductor materials using organic materials, that is, polymer-based materials, under laboratory conditions more easily and cheaper. Other silicon technology requires a slightly higher vacuum, and requires processes that are longer. Ours is easier, cheaper systems that we can easily prepare even in the existing laboratory environment. For us, there is instant production and use, that is, there is the sun, you produce the energy with batteries and use it immediately,” she outlined.
Güneş stated that they were able to produce enough electricity to light the led lamps in their laboratory studies.
“We need to improve this further, charging the phone will require more energy. We are not trying to replace the technology that is currently on roofs, these are things that will take a very long time. But when you go to a place far from the city, rather than carrying the solar cell technology, it would be much easier to handle that issue with a technology that you can wear,” she said.
“We have to be aware, time is ticking, we are heading toward the horizon of the irreversible evening. Maybe we will be fine ourselves before it's too late, but our children, grandchildren and next generations are important. Turkey's independence and future are in solar energy. We should turn to renewable energy sources and do whatever we can before we go to the horizon of more irreversible evenings, we have to,” she urged.
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