CHIBA, Japan -- Here's one way to disguise a solar panel.
That little pocketbook-looking thing in the picture is a set of solar panels from TDK, the chemical and component giant from Japan. The panels contain a titanium oxide solar dye that is around eight percent efficient (in extraordinary circumstances), according to company officials. Although that's lower than what one can obtain with crystalline silicon or even copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) solar panels, the process is somewhat energy efficient. The dyes are merely coated and dried onto a substrate. They do not have to be applied in a vacuum chamber, which means far less heating and energy.
The two small panels power the fan twirling in the foreground of the picture.
One of the more interesting aspects is how the panels are wired. The contacts are the silvery designs that make up the silhouette of the woman and the goose. It beats those straight grid lines of standard solar panels. The company hopes to bring the dyes to market in some fashion in three years or more.
The prototype is one of many green exhibits on display this week at Ceatec, Japan's version of the Consumer Electronics Show taking place this week in Chiba near Tokyo. Japan has been a major producer and consumer of solar panels and energy efficiency technologies since the oil shocks of the early 1970s. Many manufacturers now want to expand on the export potential. Hence, instead of talking about screen size or screen resolution when it comes to TVS, a number of manufacturers are discussing how their consumer electronics can curb energy consumption compared to traditional products. (I'm here heading up a committee to pick the most promising technologies.) The show attracts about 100,000 attendees. It officially begins tomorrow.
Some other things you'll probably read about later this week: an application from Fujitsu to optimize farming harvests; home electronics recycling from Mitsubishi; fuel cells; and organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). Nissan will also show off a system that potentially improves gas mileage and safety by allowing cars to drive better in packs and reduce braking and accelerating. It's inspired from how fish can swim in schools.