Science

Electric sunglasses have solar cells for lenses

Electric sunglasses have solar...
The lenses power a microprocessor, two sensors and two displays
The lenses power a microprocessor, two sensors and two displays
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The lenses power a microprocessor, two sensors and two displays
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The lenses power a microprocessor, two sensors and two displays

If you're using the sun to power a mobile device that you're carrying with you, it only makes sense to put the solar cells on something you're wearing that will be receiving a lot of sunlight. With that in mind, researchers from Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have created a pair of sunglasses that generate electricity via solar cells that double as their lenses.

Organic solar cells were chosen instead of more traditional silicon cells because they're transparent, flexible, lightweight, and can be manufactured in a variety of shapes and colors. Each solar cell lens weighs about six grams, is 1.6 mm thick, and was made to fit into a set of commercially-produced sunglass frames.

Those frames also feature added electronics in the temples, including a microprocessor, two sensors and two displays. The lenses power those electronics, which measure and display the current illumination intensity and ambient temperature as bar graphs.

Although they work best in direct sunlight, each lens still generates 200 milliwatts of power under indoor illumination down to 500 lux, which is about average for most offices or living areas. Although 200 mW may not sound like much, it's enough to power a device such as a hearing aid or a step counter.

The technology could conceivably also be applied to the windows of buildings, where it would generate much more power.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Energy Technology.

Source: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

3 comments
Derek Howe
20 years into the future, this is what I see. Smartphones are dead, everyone will be wearing AR glasses, they will be the same size, weight, and variety that we currently have for regular sunglasses. They will never have to be plugged in, as they will utilize this tech, and always have plenty of power on tap.
splatman
Calling out the 200mW at 500 lux claim. At 100% efficiency 500lux of fluorescent light will produce 33mW on two 50mm diameter surfaces. Calculation here: http://www.rapidtables.com/calc/light/lux-to-watt-calculator.htm
Rocky Stefano
@Derek. Almost. Cyber contact lenses that do everything AR and all the computing your cell phone does today. Sont actually files a patent for this recently.