A graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago has invented what could be the world’s lightest and thinnest solar charger. Sung Won Chang, the inventor who designed and built the initial prototype of the charger, named her creation solar paper.
When asked why she picked such a name, Chang said that being paper-thin is one of the most salient features of the solar charger. It’s so thin that you can slip it into the pages of a notebook or planner. A single panel of solar paper is only slightly larger than an iPhone 6. It measures 190 millimeters by 90 millimeters which means you can easily slip it inside the pages of a book or a small notebook and carry it around with you.
Chang has established a solar company called Yolk with the goal of bringing the solar paper to a commercial market. She and her business partner Lim Sam have already developed a final design which they have tested numerous times to satisfactory results. They have also started purchasing solar cells which will be the main components should a full production run commence. However, the company still doesn’t have the necessary funds to bring the solar paper to a larger market which is why they set up a Kickstarter campaign to attract potential investors. The campaign was a huge success. The company only needed $50,000 to get the project on track but as of this writing, investors poured over $300,000 for the project.
The solar paper has distinct advantages compared to other solar chargers in the market. The most obvious of these advantages is the solar paper’s thinness and lightness. It weighs only 120 grams. You can bring it anywhere. You can strap the paper panels on your backpack and have them charge your smartphone while you walk to school or to the office. You can lay the panel in a park bench and let it harvest energy from the sun while you read your favorite book. A solar paper can fully charge an iPhone just as quick as an electric wall charger. This can take about two and a half hours.
The solar paper also has auto reset technology which means it’s programmed to automatically reset when it receives very little sunlight. Because of this auto-reset feature, the solar paper can save more energy in a more stable and efficient way. Unlike other solar chargers, there’s no need to keep on re-plugging the cables every time the sun gets covered by the clouds. Furthermore, the solar papers are also waterproof. This is why it’s a great companion when you go outdoors where there’s a chance the batteries of your phone or camera will run out.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.