Konarka Technologies will supply the US Army with flexible plastic sheeting that converts light into energy — technology that could someday find its way into the casing of laptops or even clothing to power portable devices. The US Army signed a $1.6 million contract to buy flexible solar cells for mobile troops.

Modern army’s power plant?

“The battlefield is going digital. Everything from night vision goggles to GPS units to two-way communicators is powered by batteries, and special operations soldiers can carry 70 to 100 pounds of replacement batteries for their electronics,” said Daniel Patrick McGahn, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Konarka. “Our power plastic can have a significant impact on reducing the modern Army’s logistics load.”

How new material may be used

Troops could recharge devices by connecting them with energy-converting plastic sheets that would thus replace disposable batteries. The sheeting also could be woven into sunlight-soaking tents, reducing the need for diesel fuel for noisy, polluting generators.

Roll of flexible photo-reactive material

Advances in semiconducting materials allow for lower-cost production of lightweight solar cells that can be woven into plastics and textiles – including camouflage-patterned materials the company is developing for the Army. Konarka’s photovoltaic materials can include a range of colors and patterns. In addition, Konarka’s cells can be produced with varying degrees of translucency so they can be customized for use in new products and markets.

Using flexible solar panel

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