August 21, 2008 It might not be the most chic of clothing items, but form takes a back-seat to function with this solar powered necktie. The tie, which is able to charge a mobile phone, was created by researchers at Iowa State University (ISU) whilst experimenting with uses for photovoltaic (PV) textiles to create smart garments.

The tie features a carry pouch at the back for storing your mobile phone and the PV flexible thin film on the front of the tie converts solar energy into electrical energy to charge the phone. The cells feature prominently on the tie as it is necessary to place the photovoltaic film in highly visible areas in order to maximize energy capture. The research team itself admits that the solar cells are graphically strong and need to be more visually integrated into the garment structure. The tie was designed with to charge a 3V lithium ion battery which is typically found in cell phones and three Iowa Thin Film MPT3.6-75 solar panels were applied to the front area of tie. The flexible solar panels were then coated with a laminate that protects the solar material. The team fashioned a multi-filar wire to one of the panel to enable the phone to connect via a Nokia cell phone charger.

The tie itself was constructed using a commercially available tie pattern, with a small elastic pocket sewn onto the back of the tie to provide a holding place for the phone and the charging wire. A cotton sateen fabric was chosen for its lustrous quality, as a means to simulate the reflective nature of the solar panels. The solar panels were attached using ‘liquid stitch’ adhesive and a dot of solder was used to connect the circuitry to the solar panels. The team tested the tie in a typical business environment by allowing a user to wear it over five business days and store it in a closet overnight. The trials were successful with the wearer suffering no electrical shocks.

The team at ISU has also created a jacket with thin film photovoltaic modules, however it needs a serious fashion makeover before it could compete with the likes of the Zegna Sport Bluetooth iJacket. Via Gadgets blog news / Iowa State University (ISU).

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