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iPod-charging solar sunglasses
New thin film nanotechnology can electrify just about any surface, including your glasses.
Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 07:54 PM
Photos: Hyun-Joong Kim and Kwang-Seok Jeong
You would have to be terribly hip to pull off these solar-powered shades, but they do bring to light the possibility of an age filled with solar-powered anythings. Young Korean designers Hyun-Joong Kim and Kwang-Seok Jeong used "a very cheap organic dye" solar cell to electrify the most basic of fashion accessories. But it's just the beginning. Literally any surface could be impregnated with the dye -- clothing, paper or an iPod itself.
Dye Solar Cell (DSC) technology is relatively new. Unlike crystalline or amorphous solar cells, dye solar cells make use of nanotechnology. One of the leading DSC manufacturers, Dyesol
, creates the cells using a semi-porous layer of titania (titanium dioxide) formed on a transparent electrically conducting substrate. A simple pigment then makes the titanium sensitive to light. Basically, it's a photochemical process that makes the dye turn into a semiconductor.
In the case of the sunglasses, instead of using a plain old dye to shade your eyes, the designers use the semiconductor dye. A low-voltage wire goes out the side of one of the temples and with it you can plug in your iPod or other portable electric device. Quite genius unless you're so cool you wear your sunglasses at night. To charge the photocell, you have to pretty much be directly facing the sun. So it might be the perfect device for long afternoons on the beach, when you want to make sure your iPod keeps playing, and you don't mind looking too glamorous.
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