Based on the Japanese art of kirigami (variation of origami), University of Michigan researchers have created shiny solar cell strips that can stretch to follow the sun throughout the day, collecting up to 30% more energy than conventional panels. How does it work? While traditional static solar panels aren’t able to capture as much energy as they theoretically could, kirigami strips are capable of stretching and follow the contours of the sun’s path. This lattice-like design protects the delicate gallium arsenide strips between two surfaces. Continue reading for another video of the strips being tested and more information.
“The developers are optimistic about future applications and working out the kinks. For instance, the strips could first be used on airborne devices, seeing as they are much more lightweight than other solar energy systems. It goes to show that the simplest design can be both most elegant and most useful,” said Inhabitat.