Stanford researcher Zhenan Bao has developed a stretchable solar cell that could be used in clothing, robots, prosthetic limbs and other non-rigid applications. The stretchable solar cells are part of Zhenan Bao's incredible efforts to create synthetic skin. Her new stretchable solar cell can be pulled up to 30 percent beyond its static size, then contracted back to its original size without damage -- and that's no small feat! A type of liquid metal that stays fluid helps the stretchable solar cell stretch like an accordion without losing the ability to conduct electricity.
In many situations, being able to use the sun as an energy source is more practical than using batteries or hooking to the grid. Besides powering synthetic skin, Zhenan Bao's stretchable solar cells will make the development of many more new materials and applications possible.