Building World’s Cheapest Solar Panel: A Research by a Teenager

I read an article in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, which talked about a Strange new discovery coming from a teenager from Nepal.

The News Claims that a boy had managed to create a working Solar Panel without actually using any silicon semiconductors (the basic ingredient of SolarPanel). Instead, he used the the thing that is available for free –Human Hair. He claims that he was able to achieve 9v, 18W solar panel.

The silicon semiconductor is what that makes the price go high, and hence difficult for developing countries to adopt.

‘I’m trying to produce commercially and distribute to the districts. We’ve already sent a couple out to the districts to test for feasibility,’ he said.

‘I searched for new, other renewable, affordable sources. People in these places are living the life of the stone age even in the 21st century,’ he said.

Milan, whose hero is the inventor Thomas Eddison, describes himself as lucky because his family could afford for him to receive a proper education while many other villagers are forced to work from an early age. Most of those from his village are illiterate.

There are a number of new technologies that are helping  bring down the cost, the Guy managed to make his solar panel for only  $39. He also claims that when mass produced the price could drop substantially down to under $10 a panel. This could be the cheapest Solar panel ever Built! This is insanely crazy. Scientists working on solar panels took years to come out with something that got defied by a kid.

How it Works:

Some chemistry is involved here.

The melanin in hair acts as an organic-semiconductor, and while the hair does not have the longevity that silicon panels have (months rather than years), these panels can be made cheaply and serviced with little to no complex knowledge. Using melanin as an organic semiconductor seems to be a newer idea, because information seems hard to come by, but we managed to find a research paper from 2007 that explored the energy absorption attributes of melanin, as well as some good background info for the science types.

If you wish to read further Follow the Original Paper (in PDF)

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  • Nice innovation! If the production price would really drop to a stunning 10 dollars per panel than we will definitely have a run on those things as it will bring cheap energy for everyone. This of course as stated above is especially interesting for developping countries. But is the use of melanine really sustainable? How long would such panels last, I mean months like stated above would be enough at such a low cost price.

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  • Anonymous

    I read the PDF article and it seems to be junk science. What the researchers created was an electrochemical cell (i.e. a battery) and they don't seem to understand it. You should note that this article wasn't published in a peer reviewed journal. Anybody can post to the site you referenced. Also, I notice some similarities between language in this paper and descriptions in news articles of the hair solar panel. For example, the inventors talk about coating electrodes with silicon dioxide. However, when the PDF article talks about “copper wires coated with silicon” what they mean is “test leads insulated with silicone”. Silicone rubber is a common insulating material used for equipment test leads and it has no relation to silicon. To me, it appears that the teens read this paper, misunderstood it, and tried to incorportate the misunderstood ideas in their invention. Here's a news story pointing out some problems with the hair solar panel http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2009/… so read it and make up your own mind. Personally, I am 99.9% convinced it's bogus.

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  • Anonymous

    I read the PDF article and it seems to be junk science. What the researchers created was an electrochemical cell (i.e. a battery) and they don't seem to understand it. You should note that this article wasn't published in a peer reviewed journal. Anybody can post to the site you referenced. Also, I notice some similarities between language in this paper and descriptions in news articles of the hair solar panel. For example, the inventors talk about coating electrodes with silicon dioxide. However, when the PDF article talks about “copper wires coated with silicon” what they mean is “test leads insulated with silicone”. Silicone rubber is a common insulating material used for equipment test leads and it has no relation to silicon. To me, it appears that the teens read this paper, misunderstood it, and tried to incorportate the misunderstood ideas in their invention. Here's a news story pointing out some problems with the hair solar panel http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2009/… so read it and make up your own mind. Personally, I am 99.9% convinced it's bogus.

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  • This amazing! is it really working? did someone tried?

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  • My parents just had their home converted to solar…it is impressive.

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  • Great! Thank for information, I'm looking for it for a long time.

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  • Solar Panel is made to create and supply electricity. Solar Panel is made up of solar cells which are also called as photovoltaic cells.
    Solar Panel usually cost $900 or $12 per watt but I'm happy to find your cheapest Solar Panel.
    Thx….

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  • That is very fascinating!
    New discoveries and now, not using silicon? but can that handle much heat? how long can it function?
    by the way it is good to hear that people still wants to search knowledge. If the invention is working, i think you can also gain benefits and advantages from it.

    Good work man, cheers.

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  • That is very fascinating!
    New discoveries and now, not using silicon? but can that handle much heat? how long can it function?
    by the way it is good to hear that people still wants to search knowledge. If the invention is working, i think you can also gain benefits and advantages from it.

    Good work man, cheers.

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  • Thanks for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to
    do a little research on this. We got a book from our area library but I think I
    learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such fantastic information
    being shared freely out there.

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