Wearable Solar 'Skin' Comes Out of Stanford

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A recyclable sweater that can power an iPhone on a sunny day -- as well as detect if the wearer has come in contact with a nasty virus or bacteria? Call it "super skin."

    It's electronic and ultrasensitive -- detecting a fly's landing -- and it just got even cooler. It's also solar-conductive, and can be woven into clothes and deployed in robots and prosthetic limbs.

    And it just got even cooler.

    Stanford researcher Zhenan Bao is updating her technology to detect chemicals and to "sense various kinds of biological molecules." In a word: DNA.

    This newer version also has stretchable, flexible solar cells. They can be stretched 30 percent beyond their original length and they return with no damage or loss of power, according to a Stanford release.

    "Depending on what kind of material we put on the sensors and how we modify the semiconducting material in the transistor, we can adjust the sensors to sense chemicals or biological material," Bao said.

    Whether it's solar, biological or even DNA, the skin transmits data electronically to a processing center -- either a human brain or a computer.

    The stretch factor is important because it allows the self-powering skin to be used in things like uniforms and other clothes.

    It would also allow for solar -energy collection on fabrics used on the exteriors of cars, lenses and architectual elements, for instance.

    Not impressed yet? How about it's all biodegradable.