Kirigami Solar Cell Platform
Continuing a project that is based on initial research done by U of M engineers, initially published in the journal Nature Communications(Lamoureux et al., Nature Comm. Vol.6 (2015) p.8092), and also serving as a topic for an undergraduate multidisciplinary design class in 2016: a solar panel shaped that tracks the sun by employing traits from the Japanese art of Kirigami. Rather than tracking the sun by rotating the entire solar panel with large motors or employing mirrors, a large array of smaller photovoltaic cells inside this system is tilted by simply stretching a thin sheet of the semiconductor material bonded to a flexible carrier. While the basic proof-of-concept for this technology already exists, further development is needed to create a complete and compelling system, something which could eventually turn into a marketable product. To that end, the goal of this team is to further develop the kirigami solar cell platform, pairing mechanical actuation with electronics and an app that will allow for module integration, easy installation, and automatic calibration for a user’s latitude. The team will also make a scaled version of the device compatible with residential building codes.