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Colored Photosynthetic Glassware Can Charge A Phone

Colored Photosynthetic Glassware Can Charge A Phone
Design

Solar-powered drinkware coated with dye-sensitized photo cells can power gadgets when placed on a special bookshelf.

Allie Walker
  • 2 july 2012

Marjan van Aubel’s ‘The Energy Collection’ is more than a collection of colorful glassware. The pink, red, and orange glasses, while fully functional as drinking vessels, are also solar-powered, able to charge a phone or other small gadget. The glasses borrow their colors and photosynthetic ability from berries and plants- just as green chlorophyll in plants absorbs light energy, the colored glasses harbor energy.

Van Aubel used technology created by photochemist Michael Graetzel –dye-sensitized photo cells–to create the solar-powered glasses. In essence, the glasses rely on the properties of different colors to create an electrical current:

Graetzel uses a porous Titanium dioxide layer soaked with photosensitive dye – a natural pigment extracted from the juice of blueberries or spinach. He discovered that the dye that gives the red or blue colour to berries, gives off an electron when light strikes it. One side of the glass is positive, the other negative and when the cell is exposed to light, the dye transmits its electrons to the titanium dioxide and releases an electronic current…Different colours mean different properties. Each colour has a unique wavelength and collects different currents. For example, blueberries and raspberries have their own voltages and levels of efficiency according to the colour spectrum.

The coated, colorful glasses store energy, and when placed onto a special bookshelf that acts like a battery, the glasses create enough electricity to charge a phone or power a lamp. The glasses in The Energy Collection can create power from sunlight or diffused light, making them more efficient than solar panels for creating electricity, as they can work both indoors and outdoors.

Watch a short video explaining the process below, and in the words of van Aubel, ‘Imagine if every object worked as a solar cell?’

 The Energy Collection

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