Solar-powered smart sunglasses | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 95 Issue 26 | p. 8 | Concentrates
Issue Date: June 26, 2017

Solar-powered smart sunglasses

Ordinary looking eyewear with solar-cell lenses and integrated sensors and displays provides case study for self-powered wearable electronics
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: solar power, wearable electronics, organic solar cells, organic photovoltaics
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The lenses of these sunglasses feature organic solar cells that power sensor and display circuitry housed in the frames.
Credit: Energy Technol.
This photo shows smart sunglasses with embedded solar cells and electronics.
 
The lenses of these sunglasses feature organic solar cells that power sensor and display circuitry housed in the frames.
Credit: Energy Technol.

Organic solar cells’ low weight, mechanical flexibility, arbitrary coloring, and other attributes provide engineers with exceptional freedom when it comes to designing applications. Researchers in Germany have capitalized on that combination of properties to conduct a case study on the fabrication, optimization, and performance of a self-powered, wearable smart device: electronic sunglasses with integrated solar cells (Energy Technol. 2017, DOI: 10.1002/ente.201700226). The sunglasses, which were designed by Dominik Landerer, Alexander Colsmann, and coworkers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, feature organic solar cells embedded in the lenses. For device evaluation purposes, the team designed the glasses such that the semitransparent cells supply power to sensors that monitor illumination intensity and ambient temperature. The temples of the glasses’ frame house the sensors, microprocessor, and liquid-crystal display circuitry. The team used solution-phase processing methods and commercially available organic polymers and fullerenes to assemble the light-absorbing photovoltaic layer. The researchers note that the sunglasses, which resemble commercial ones in appearance, weight, and eye protection against UV radiation, function reliably in intense outdoor light and typical indoor lighting.

 
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