Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Getting wrapped up in solar textiles

A 3-D rendering of "Soft House", which uses household curtains to collect solar energy and provide lighting.
A 3-D rendering of "Soft House", which uses household curtains to collect solar energy and provide lighting.

Abstract:
MIT lecturer focuses on flexible photovoltaic materials

Getting wrapped up in solar textiles

Cambridge, MA | Posted on June 9th, 2008

Sheila Kennedy, an expert in the integration of solar cell technology in architecture who is now at MIT, creates designs for flexible photovoltaic materials that may change the way buildings receive and distribute energy.

These new materials, known as solar textiles, work like the now-familiar photovoltaic cells in solar panels. Made of semiconductor materials, they absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity.

Kennedy uses 3-D modeling software to design with solar textiles, generating membrane-like surfaces that can become energy-efficient cladding for roofs or walls. Solar textiles may also be draped like curtains.

"Surfaces that define space can also be producers of energy," says Kennedy, a visiting lecturer in architecture. "The boundaries between traditional walls and utilities are shifting."

Principal architect in the Boston firm, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd., and design director of its materials research group, KVA Matx, Kennedy came to MIT this year. She was inspired, she says, by President Susan Hockfield's plan to make MIT the "energy university" and by MIT's interdisciplinary energy curriculum that integrates research and practice.

This spring, Kennedy taught a new MIT architecture course, Soft Space: Sustainable Strategies for Textile Construction. She challenged the students to design architectural proposals for a new fast train station and public market in Porto, Portugal.

For Mary Hale, graduate student in architecture, Kennedy's Soft Space course was an inspiration to pursue photovoltaic technology in her master's thesis.

"I have always been interested in photovoltaics, but before this studio, I am not sure that I would have felt empowered to integrate them into a personal, self-propelled, project," she says.

Kennedy, for her part, will pursue her research in pushing the envelope of energy-efficiency and architecture. A recent project, "Soft House," exhibited at the Vitra Design Museum in Essen, Germany, illustrates what Kennedy means when she says the boundaries between walls and utilities are changing.

For Soft House, Kennedy transformed household curtains into mobile, flexible energy-harvesting surfaces with integrated solid-state lighting. Soft House curtains move to follow the sun and can generate up to 16,000 watt-hours of electricity--more than half the daily power needs of an average American household.

Although full-scale Soft House prototypes were successfully developed, the project points to a challenge energy innovators and other inventors face, Kennedy says. "Emerging technologies tend to under-perform compared with dominant mainstream technologies."

For example, organic photovoltaics (OPV), an emergent solar nano-technology used by the Soft House design team, are currently less efficient than glass-based solar technologies, Kennedy says.

But that lower efficiency needn't be an insurmountable roadblock to the marketplace, Kennedy says, because Soft House provides an actual application of the unique material advantages of solar nano-technologies without having to compete with the centralized grid.

Which brings her back to the hands-on, prototype-building approach Kennedy hopes to draw from in her teaching and work at MIT.

"Working prototypes are a very important demonstration tool for showing people that there are whole new ways to think about energy," she says.

####

About MIT
The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Teresa Herbert
MIT News Office
Phone: 617-258-5403

Copyright © MIT

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Ag/ZnO-Nanorods Schottky diodes based UV-PDs are fabricated and tested May 26th, 2017

New metamaterial-enhanced MRI technique tested on humans May 26th, 2017

Controlling 3-D behavior of biological cells using laser holographic techniques May 26th, 2017

Unveiling the quantum necklace: Researchers simulate quantum necklace-like structures in superfluids May 26th, 2017

Announcements

Ag/ZnO-Nanorods Schottky diodes based UV-PDs are fabricated and tested May 26th, 2017

New metamaterial-enhanced MRI technique tested on humans May 26th, 2017

Controlling 3-D behavior of biological cells using laser holographic techniques May 26th, 2017

Unveiling the quantum necklace: Researchers simulate quantum necklace-like structures in superfluids May 26th, 2017

Energy

Three-dimensional graphene: Experiment at BESSY II shows that optical properties are tuneable May 24th, 2017

Stanford scientists use nanotechnology to boost the performance of key industrial catalyst May 18th, 2017

Fed grant backs nanofiber development: Rice University joins Department of Energy 'Next Generation Machines' initiative May 10th, 2017

Discovery of new transparent thin film material could improve electronics and solar cells: Conductivity is highest-ever for thin film oxide semiconductor material May 6th, 2017

Textiles/Clothing

New ultrafast flexible and transparent memory devices could herald new era of electronics April 1st, 2017

'Back to the Future' inspires solar nanotech-powered clothing November 15th, 2016

Engineers develop new magnetic ink to print self-healing devices that heal in record time November 7th, 2016

Stretchy supercapacitors power wearable electronics August 25th, 2016

Solar/Photovoltaic

Three-dimensional graphene: Experiment at BESSY II shows that optical properties are tuneable May 24th, 2017

Stanford scientists use nanotechnology to boost the performance of key industrial catalyst May 18th, 2017

Fed grant backs nanofiber development: Rice University joins Department of Energy 'Next Generation Machines' initiative May 10th, 2017

Discovery of new transparent thin film material could improve electronics and solar cells: Conductivity is highest-ever for thin film oxide semiconductor material May 6th, 2017

Construction

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 2017

Next-gen steel under the microscope March 18th, 2017

Graphene foam gets big and tough: Rice University's nanotube-reinforced material can be shaped, is highly conductive February 13th, 2017

New low-cost technique converts bulk alloys to oxide nanowires January 24th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project