Stick these solar cells on your phone or whatever else

These decal-like panels can go anywhere and don't lose any efficiency.

Stanford University

What if everything around you had the potential to generate small amounts of energy?

We've seen flexible, even stick-on photovoltaic cells before, but these decal-style solars are compact and fun.

In a recent article in Scientific Reports, Stanford University mechanical engineering assistant professor Xiaolin Zheng and colleagues describe thin-film solar cells that can be peeled and stuck anywhere.

The researchers manufactured them on a reusable silicon and silicon dioxide wafer and then stuck them on paper, plastic, and window glass.

The original cell efficiency of 7.5 percent was maintained, and the manufacturing uses existing processes and materials. That could make the decals viable commercially, according to the researchers.

"Nonconventional or 'universal' substrates are difficult to use for photovoltaics because they typically have irregular surfaces and they don't do well with the thermal and chemical processing necessary to produce today's solar cells," Zheng was quoted as saying in a Stanford release.

"We got around these problems by developing this peel-and-stick process, which gives thin-film solar cells flexibility and attachment potential we've never seen before, and also reduces their general cost and weight.

"Now you can put them on helmets, cell phones, convex windows, portable electronic devices, curved roofs, clothing--virtually anything."

If only I had these on my old sticker-covered skateboard.

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