Dutch designer creates tableware that collects solar energy indoors

Imagine that your glasses and tableware not only serve their usual purpose at the dining table, but also collect and store solar energy in the manner of solar panels?

The new Energy Collection set by Dutch designer Marjan Van Aubel does just that. A photovoltaic layer of dye Synthesized Solar Cells are imbued inside glasses and tableware to create a unique self-sufficient. They collect solar energy from the light around it and deposit that energy in a specially-designed storage cabinet that also serves as a battery. The cabinet can then provide electrical power to electronic appliances and devices.

Michael Graetzel at EPFL invented the dye Synthesized Solar Cell technology. He took a leaf from the book of photosynthetic plants by using the properties of color to generate an electrical current just like how green chlorophyll absorbs light energy.

To create the dye Synthesized Solar Cell, Graetzel soaks a porous Titanium dioxide layer in photosensitive dye. The dye is a natural pigment taken from the juice of blueberries and spinach.

Graetzel found out that the dye that gives berries their color sheds an electron when struck by light. So he designed one side of the glass that hosts the dye Synthesized Solar Cell to be positive and the other side to be negative. When light hits the Cell, the dye sends its electrons to the titanium dioxide, creating an electric current.

Standard solar panels only work in direct sunlight. They are also obviously unsuitable for use indoors. But the dye Synthesized Solar Cells imbued in the Energy Collection glassware do not limit themselves to sunlight. It is also efficient enough to use diffused light as a sustainable source of solar energy. This allows them to be used indoors.

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