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Wearable Solar Electricity Generators
[ Issue 157 Page 2 ] Thursday, October 19, 2017, 12:20:47 Hee Yeon Kim Junior Staff Reporter kimhy98@kaist.ac.kr

Researchers from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) School of Materials Science and Engineering have developed a new wearable solar thermoelectric generator (W-STEG) in their recent study.

A thermoelectric generator harvests waste heat energy and converts it into electrical power. Its output is proportional to the square root of the temperature difference, and hence a large temperature difference is ideal for maximum energy production.

Whereas conventional thermoelectric generators using body heat had limited efficiency due to only a 1~4 oC temperature difference between the body and the surrounding environment, the UNIST researchers’ novel W-STEG is driven by an unprecedentedly high temperature difference of 20.9 oC. This breakthrough was achieved through integration of thick sub-micron solar absorbers on a polyimide substrate, yielding an open-circuit voltage of 55.15 mV and an output power of 4.44 μW upon sunlight exposure.

The new W-STEG is expected to enhance commercialization of thermoelectric generators and further expand the wearable electronic technology market.

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