There is an interesting story about ancient Rome which tells us that flexible glass is a legendary lost invention from the time of the reign of Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius Caesar ordered the execution of a glassmaker for inventing the ‘Vitrum Flexile’ or flexible glass, which was unbreakable and could be bended by hand. The emperor feared that the new invention would undermine the value of gold and silver and will shatter the whole economy.
Now after hundreds of years, In 2012 Corning introduced ‘Willow Glass’. As you probably know, Corning is the manufacturer of Gorilla Glass, which forms the front of most premium Smart-phones today. Willow glass is a type of flexible glass.
Willow Glass is very heat resistant, which is useful in high temperatures measured in hundreds of degrees Celsius. Willow Glass is flexible enough to be rolled up which can significantly speed up production and reduce costs. Willow Glass’s combination of flexibility, transparency, and heat resistance makes it a very good option for the creation of cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has built flexible solar cells out of Corning’s Willow Glass. These new solar cells are strong enough to even replace roofing shingles.
Conventional solar panels are bulky and breakable, which makes them expensive to transport and install. But with this latest technological development, the flexible glass can be used to make cheap solar cells. These flexible solar cells can even replace conventional brick or slate shingles.
The cost of installation is one of the most prohibitive factors in adopting solar power. But using flexible solar cells instead of conventional brick or slate shingles would make it much cheaper. With roofing made of solar panels, homes can generate their own electricity.
By: Michael Cooney