Researchers at Caltech have developed bendy micro-meter wide solar cells that use just 1% of the silicon needed by a solar cell with the same output. What’s more, cells do this with only 5% of the size. This could in the near future lead to cheap, flexible solar cell microfibers that could power a host of wearable gadgets.
The base that “grows” the micrometer-wide silicon wires is also reusable, which would greatly reduce the cost of making gadget-powering outfits. The cells have also been shown to be quite efficient, reflecting back only half as much energy as a traditional solar cell of the same size. Whether this technology will survive in the real world remains to be seen.