Soldiers on the field have to carry several electronic devices such as night-vision goggles, various communicators, and flashlights — gadgets that could help them live to see another day. To ensure that these devices would work when they're needed, the average soldier has to lug around half a kilogram or so of batteries. But the Australian National University (ANU) believes it's come up with a greener way to juice military gadgets.
The university developed a wearable solar cell technology dubbed SLIVER as part of its $2.3 million contract with Australia's Department of Defense. The solar cells are just 45 microns thick — that's as thin as human hair or a sheet of paper. They're lightweight, flexible, and exhibit the same efficiency as their thicker counterparts. They can also withstand extreme temperatures.
Professor Andrew Blakers, the project's chief investigator, says soldiers can wear the panels on their clothes and helmets, or attach them to weapons or tents. As they're thin and flexible, the panels can easily be rolled up and put away — an ideal set-up as we're sure that if you're an infantry soldier on the frontlines, shiny solar cells on your helmet are the last thing you'll need.
While it's certainly interesting that the SLIVER solar panels are extremely thin and are designed to be worn, the idea of tapping into solar energy to power military devices is nothing new. Last year, the U.S. military deployed solar backpacks to its troops in Afghanistan for that very purpose.
[Image source: The U.S. Army]
Post by Mariella Moon
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