Sun-powered Textiles - Textile solar cell modules for energy harvesting in wearables

The Sun-powered Textiles project has designed and developed a textile collection suitable for solar energy harvesting. In textile-based wearables, the solar cells can be concealed behind the textile for aesthetic reasons, which enables a broader freedom of design while still producing enough energy to power wearable devices. As a research result, we showcase a solar cell jacket prototype with temperature and humidity sensors.
Solar cells and textiles to be combined for energy harvesting in textile wearables
Photo: Anne Kinnunen

Textiles can be purposely designed to let sunlight pass through them. Hence, when a textile is placed on top of commercial solar cells, the resulting textile-cell module can generate energy. This eliminates the need for battery charging or replacement in wearables. The energy-autonomous product can generate its own energy by using light as a renewable energy source. In addition to sunlight, it can generate energy from artificial light, too.

The Sun-powered Textiles project has designed and developed a textile collection suitable for solar energy harvesting. The second design driver is that the textile effectively conceals the integrated solar cell. The fibre material, textile structure, density, colour and after-treatments all impact the optical properties of textiles. The working prototype, a show case jacket, contains a temperature and humidity sensor that is powered by textile-integrated solar cells.

The textile-cell energy harvesting module can be widely applied toward smart textiles and wearable technology solutions, such as occupational and professional wear, sportswear, well-being and fashion.

Learn more: Questions and answers about the Sun-Powered Textiles

The Sun-powered Textiles team:

Department of Design (Aalto University): 
Elina Ilén, Project lead (design) (Textile technology, textile electronics design and manufacture), co-advisor for Bettina’s and Zuzana’s M.A. theses 
Elina Palovuori, Coordinator, daily support of design and research, (textile materials, textile technology)
Bettina Blomstedt, M.A. Thesis worker, research assistant (Textile design, development of knitted textiles)
Zuzana Zmatekova, M.A. Thesis worker (Textile design, development of woven textiles), 
Maarit Salolainen, Supervisor for Bettina’s and Zuzana’s M.A. theses, Co-advisor for Zuzana’s M.A. thesis

Department of Applied Physics (Aalto University): 
Janne Halme, Project lead (physics), Project PI (physics)
Farid Elsehrawy, project manager, post-doctoral researcher (Solar cell textile optics and photonics, energy harvesting electronics)
Linda Wederhorn, M.Sc. thesis worker (Textile - solar cell performance characterization and energy harvesting analysis)
Pinja Helasuo, B.Sc. thesis worker, research assistant (Solar cell textile modeling and characterization)
Jaakko Eskola, B.Sc. thesis worker, research assistant (Photographic colorimetry)

The event is a part of Helsinki Design Week’s official festival programme and Year of Research-Based Knowledge. Aalto University is one of the EU's New European Bauhaus partners. 

#ACoolerPlanet #HelsinkiDesignWeek #NewEuropeanBauhaus #tttv21

Designs for a Cooler Planet 2021

Resource Wisdom - Designs for a Cooler Planet 2021

Helsinki Design Week 2021 has landed in Otaniemi, showcasing three paths to resource wisdom

Radical ideas and prototypes contributing to a resource-wise future. The exhibitions and online lectures are open to everyone, and they belong to the official Helsinki Design Week programme.

Better to Wear exhibition visual

Better to Wear

We get dressed each and every day: clothes protect us and help us express ourselves. We can dress better when we re-design the whole textile process from manufacturing to use to recycling.

Infinite materials theme visual

Infinite Materials

We need to radically cut our consumption of materials and energy by creating materials that are not just renewable but forever reusable.

Loving environments visual theme

Loving Environments

Construction gobbles up half of the world’s natural resources. Collaboration between scientists, designers, architects, the public sector and companies generates ideas that can make living environments and the construction industry more sustainable.

Solar cells laminated on the back side of textiles in the Sun-Powered Textiles project

Questions and answers about the Sun-Powered Textiles

Researchers of the Sun-Powered Textiles project answer the most frequently (un)asked questions about their textile-integrated solar cells.

Department of Design
Two jackets made of optimized textiles for covering solar cells

The results of the Sun-powered Textiles project will be presented as showcase jackets

A showcase jacket is a tangible result of the Sun-powered Textiles project

Department of Design
A close-up image of a woven textile structure to be used to cover the solar cell.

Hidden photovoltaics enables freedom to design e-textiles

The Sun-powered Textiles project explores a practical and scalable solar cell textile technology

Department of Design
  • Published:
  • Updated: