UW News

August 24, 2006

Researchers launch effort to build flexible solar cells to power aircraft

WHO: Researchers at the University of Washington, including Matthew O’Donnell, the new dean of the UW’s College of Engineering, and colleagues from the University of Colorado; University of California, Los Angeles; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

WHAT: Launch of a federally funded effort to build a new type of solar cell that’s flexible and durable enough to wrap around an airplane’s fuselage. The day’s events will include a demo of one of the new cells.

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 25. The demo will be at about 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Johnson Hall 111 on the UW Seattle campus. Johnson is located just south of Gerberding Hall and Red Square.

DETAILS: Minoru Taya, UW professor of mechanical engineering, is principal investigator for a new effort, sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, to design energy harvesting and storage systems for future aircraft. The $6 million project is a collaboration between the UW, the University of Colorado, UCLA and Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

The vision, according to Taya, is an airplane covered in a skin of the flexible solar cells, which would help power the craft while the sun is shining. Researchers will also delve into ways to efficiently store power for dark or cloudy conditions.

The demonstration will be located just outside Johnson Hall and feature solar cells hooked to small motors. Taya and other researchers will be available to discuss the project and its implications.

A complete agenda for the event is available at: