Sustainable Energy

Sunny Talk

Cell phone users worry constantly about dwindling battery charge. To eliminate that concern, AstroPower Inc., of Newark, Del., is trying to build a small array of crystalline silicon solar cells linked like circuit elements on a microchip. This “monolithic” connection permits a large number of cells to be hooked up in series-stepping up the voltage to the required level without introducing the electrical resistance that ordinary wiring would produce.

Unlike the amorphous silicon used in calculators, the crystalline devices require sunlight-not indoor fluorescent illumination-to generate electricity. Still, says AstroPower’s Lou Dinetta, a roughly 2.5-by-5-centimeter array would supply enough power for an hour of talk time. Wearing the cell phone on the hip outdoors would expose it to enough sunlight to maintain the phone in stand-by mode indefinitely. AstroPower is negotiating with at least one major cell-phone maker.

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.