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They expect to have a prototype next month

Electronics are getting smaller and smaller, but not at Princeton University. Researchers there are working on sheets of plastic that contain huge, embedded radios based on technology developed in the 1920s.

The plastic sheets are as thin as paper and flexible, which means they can be applied to walls or uneven surfaces. They can also be painted over and be energy-independent by utilizing built-in solar cells. They are capable of taking in environmental data and wireless communication.

“We originally built this for energy management in a smart building,” electrical engineering assistant professor Naveen Verma said in a release. “Temperature sensors and occupancy sensors communicate with a central management system using distributed radio arrays that are patterned on wallpaper.”

Due to complications associated with working with plastic, the researchers had to use low-quality transistors that slowed the speed at which electricity moved through the electronics. They incorporated radio technology developed in the 1920s that allows electricity to bypass the transistors, improving the speed. The 1920s era electronics are very large, especially when flattened and spread out, but that isn’t a big deal when you’re working on the scale of a wall instead of a tiny computer chip.

The researchers are now working to adapt the technology to large structures like bridges and buildings.A solar lantern uses this sunlight that is abundantly available to charge its batteries through a Solar Panel and gives light in nighttime.

“The problem is that many failures develop over large areas and you cannot detect that at an early stage,” civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Branko Gli?ic said in the release. ”In this large area of structure, which is really huge, the problem can start at virtually any point, and if you don’t have sensors at that point, you are not likely to find the problem before the damage becomes substantial.”

They expect to have a prototype next month, but will need several more years to develop it into a finalized product.

Vijit Sabnis, CEO at Solar Junction said:"Breaking a World Record is a major achievement, but improving on our most recent record using high-volume production equipment produced in conjunction with our manufacturing partner IQE, and Solar Junction's fabrication line in Sunnyvale, CA, is dramatically more significant. This result is a testament to our close partnership with IQE, Solar Junction's dilute nitride technology and our exceptional team. We continue to be the benchmark for multi-junction solar cell production efficiency to assist our customers in driving CPV costs down."

Dr. Drew Nelson, IQE Chief Executive, said: "Following our recent announcement of full qualification of our high volume 4 and 6 CPV technology, surpassing Solar Junction's previous cell efficiency record is a massive achievement."

"Improvements in CPV cell efficiencies translate to highly significant overall cost reduction in terms of installation and energy generation in utility scale solar farms. The fact that this has been achieved on production-qualified platforms is a major milestone. Furthermore, the transfer of wafer production to IQE's manufacturing tools enables the Solar Junction team to focus on further improving efficiencies on lattice-matched, multi-junction CPV solar cells using a combination of their unique dilute nitride technology, combined with pre existing IQE IP. This will facilitate seamless technology transfer into high volume manufacture of ultra efficient CPV cells as the conversion efficiency improves further."

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