Machine Design

Wearable solar panels

Keeping your cell phone or handheld computer charged and ready could be as easy as donning a hat.

Power Purse


Joe Hynek, an Iowa State doctoral student in mechanical engineering, has attached thin sheets of solar panels from Iowa Thin Film Technologies Inc., Ames, Iowa, to hats, jackets, and purses.

Hynek's Power Purse handbag, for example, recently took 2 nd place for aesthetic design in the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists' annual design competition. Hynek is concentrating on items that don't need frequent cleaning, but he's also working on technology that will stand up to washing machines. Funding for the work comes from a grant from the university's Institute for Physical Research and Technology.

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