An Israeli company says it has developed solar energy technology so efficient that it can power office appliances and wearable technologies, making the need for batteries obsolete.
The product, developed by the firm 3G Solar Photovoltaics, is an advanced form of dye solar cell (DSC) technology, which uses glass-printed photovoltaic cells to power everyday electric devices, from a computer mouse to smart watch.
While solar energy typically requires sunlight to produce electricity, these dye solar cells are so sensitive they can generate power from indirect, indoor lighting.
Nir Stein, Director of Product R&D and Chief Business Development Officer at the company, demonstrated how an ordinary computer mouse with the company's dye solar cells can operate without a battery.
"What you see here is a computer mouse that has a bluetooth connectivity inside it and is powered by 3G solar photo voltaic cells," he explained as he took the battery out.
He could still operate the mouse in an office with fluorescent lighting, even when his hand covered much of the surface.
"3G Solar has invented a device that will be connected or built in new wireless electronics so there will be no need to ever change a battery or to recharge a battery. So when you have thousands of censors for instance in a building, which is going to happen in the next few years, you'll never have to change a battery again," said Barry N. Breen, the company's CEO.
Breen explained that in the past few years, his company worked hard to develop a number of new uses for DSC technology.
A few years ago, the company presented its large-scale dye solar cells with a 1.5-square-meter (16 square foot) prototype. Now it has gone to the other extreme, producing the smallest yet most efficient units of DSC.
"What we offer in our cells, in our light power devices, is a solution that gives three times the power of anything else that exists, and we're talking indoors, where most the electronics are used. So three times the power to run these new electronics, the new censors, the smart watches and other wearables. So it's a way to keep those powered that couldn't be done before," Breen said.
Dye-sensitized solar cells are also known as Graetzel cells, after Michael Graetzel, a professor at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, who discovered them about 20 years ago.
He found that sunlight excites the dye and creates and electronic charge without the need for pricey semiconductors, similar to the way a plant uses chlorophyll to turn sunlight into energy through photosynthesis.