Navigation Links
Wake Forest earns patent for efficient, inexpensive fiber-based solar cells

Winston-Salem, N.C. -- Wake Forest University has received the first patent for a new solar cell technology that can double the energy production of today's flat cells at a fraction of the cost.

"It comes at a pretty high price to be green," said David Carroll, Ph.D., the director of Wake Forest's Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials, where the fiber cell was developed. "This device can make a huge difference."

The university received the patent for fiber-based photovoltaic, or solar, cells from the European Patent Office; applications to the U.S. Patent Office are pending. The patent on the technology has been licensed to FiberCell Inc., based in the Piedmont Triad Research Park of Winston-Salem, to develop a way to manufacture the cells. The company is producing its first large test cells.

These new solar cells are made from millions of miniscule plastic fibers that can collect sunlight at oblique angles even when the sun is rising and setting. Flat-cell technology captures light primarily when the sun is directly above.

Where a flat cell loses energy when the sun's rays bounce off its shiny surface, the fiber-based design creates more surface area to confine the sun's rays, trapping the light in the tiny fiber "cans" where it bounces around until it is absorbed almost completely. That means much greater energy production with fiber-based cells: Wake Forest's fiber cells could produce about twice as many kilowatt hours per day as standard flat cells.

"We've been able to show that with a standard absorber we can collect more of the photons than anyone else can," Carroll said. "Because of the way the device works, I get more power."

To make the cells, the plastic fibers are assembled onto plastic sheets, with a technology similar to that used to create the tops of soft-drink cups. The absorber either a polymer or a dye is sprayed on. The plastic makes the cells lightweight and flexible a manufacturer could roll them up and ship them anywhere cheaply.

Carroll envisions several key uses for fiber cells:

  • Green building: "We've known how to build the 'smart house,' it's just been too expensive," he said. "The fiber cell can change that." Alter the dimensions and dye color, and builders can integrate the cells nearly anywhere in the home's design. Because fiber cells can collect light at various angles, they no longer have to stay on the roof to work. Partner the cells with devices that could store the power more efficiently, turn off lights and appliances when not in use, and capture and redirect the heat the building radiates at night, and you have a more affordable, energy-efficient structure.

  • Bringing power to developing countries: Once the primary manufacturer ships the lightweight, plastic fiber cells, satellite plants in poor countries can spray them with the dye and prepare them for installation. Carroll estimates it would cost about $5 million to set up a finishing plant about $15 million less than it could cost to set up a similar plant for flat cells.

  • Revolutionizing the power grid: "What if you didn't own your roof," Carroll asked. "What if the power company did?" The fiber cells installed on some homes in each neighborhood would feed the grid, and the power company would monitor energy collection and distribution through a computer network. The homeowner would not maintain the cells; that responsibility would fall to the power company.


Contact: Ellen Sterner-Sedeno
Wake Forest University

Related biology technology :

1. Cell Biosciences Acquires Protein Forest
2. Phenomix and Forest Laboratories to Collaborate on Development and Commercialization of Dutogliptin in Diabetes
3. Forest Laboratories, Inc. Sets Date and Conference Call for Fiscal 2009 Second Quarter Earnings
4. Oil palm plantations are no substitute for tropical rainforests, a new study shows
5. Forest Laboratories, Inc. Sets Date and Conference Call for Fiscal 2009 First Quarter Earnings
6. Forest Laboratories, Inc. and Laboratorios Almirall, S.A. to Host Webcast to Discuss Aclidinium Bromide Data Presentations at the American Thoracic Society Annual Congress
7. Forest Laboratories, Inc. and Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. Announce the Termination of the AZOR Co-Promotion Agreement
8. Forest Laboratories, Inc. Announces Amendment to Bystolic(TM) (nebivolol) Agreement
9. Forest Laboratories, Inc. Announces Positive Results of Memantine Study of Once-Daily Formulation
10. Forest Laboratories, Inc. and Merz Pharma GmbH & Co. KgaA File Additional Lawsuit Against Several Companies for Patent Infringement
11. Forest and Cypress Announce Submission of New Drug Application for Milnacipran for the Treatment of Fibromyalgia Syndrome
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... President and CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences, will be presenting ... New York . ... website approximately 5 minutes prior to the presentation to ... the presentation will be available on the website approximately ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Jessica ... on AngelList early in their initial angel funding process. Now, they are paying ... looking to make early stage investments in the microbiome space. In this, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ... today reported financial results for the quarter ended ... expressed in Canadian dollars and presented under International ... United States ," said Andrew Rae ... advancements regarding iCo-008 are not only value enriching ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... India , November 24, 2015 ... a new market research report "Oligonucleotide Synthesis Market by ... Application (PCR, Gene Synthesis, Diagnostic, DNA, RNAi), End-User (Research, ... 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to ... Million in 2015, at a CAGR of 10.1% during ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:11/2/2015)... PARK, Calif. , Nov. 2, 2015  SRI ... $9 million to provide preclinical development services to the ... the contract, SRI will provide scientific expertise, modern testing ... wide variety of preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies to ... --> The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) policy ... and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options for the Future," ... Human Services guidance for synthetic biology providers has worked ... --> --> Synthetic biology promises ... to pose unique biosecurity threats. It now is easier ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Mich. , Oct. 29, 2015  Rubicon ... Genomics for U.S. distribution of its DNA library ... kit and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX ... enable the preparation of NGS libraries for liquid ... for diagnostic and prognostic applications in cancer and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):