Australian Sliver solar cells will lighten the gear carried by soldiers

Sliver® cells address the major issue relating to the uptake of solar electric systems – the cost. Sliver® cells use up to 90% less silicon compared with mono crystalline cells of equivalent output resulting in lower module costs. They generate up to 140 watts per square meter

Sliver® solar cells are fabricated using 1 – 2 mm thick silicon wafers. The key step in Sliver® cell processing is to form deep narrow grooves all the way through the wafer. Several processes can be used including laser scribing, a dicing saw or an anisotropic etching process.

The result is a wafer cut into a series of slivers, with each sliver approximately 50-100mm long, 1-2mm wide and 40-60μm thick.

Today’s soldier relied on a wide range of battery-powered devices including radios, torches, night vision devices and global positioning systems.

‘‘The average soldier in Afghanistan now is carrying probably 40kg to 50kg, some of them even 60kg,’’ he said.

‘‘The average soldier would probably carry half a kilogram of batteries.’’

The Australian system, known as Sliver cells and developed as part of a $2.3 million contract between the ANU and Defence, features externally mounted panels that can be worn on a soldier’s helmet, front or back body armour plate or deployed on weapons or tents.

British scientists are working on energy-harvesting technology woven into the fabric of the soldier’s uniform that is powered by sunlight during the day and warmth during the night.

That project, due to have a prototype completed by December, could make troops invisible to infrared imaging devices.

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