Dynamic Kirigami Solar Cell System

Dynamic Kirigami Solar Cell System

Kirigami Solar Cell

This VIP team is continuing a project that is based on initial research done by U of M engineers, initially published in the journal Nature Communications (Lamoureux et al., Nature Comm. Vol.6 (2015) p.8092), and also serving as a topic for an undergraduate multidisciplinary design class in 2016:  a solar panel shaped that tracks the sun by employing traits from the Japanese art of Kirigami. Rather than tracking the sun by rotating the entire solar panel with large motors or employing mirrors, a large array of smaller photovoltaic cells inside this system is tilted by simply stretching a thin sheet of the semiconductor material bonded to a flexible carrier. While the basic proof-of-concept for this technology already exists, further development is needed to create a complete and compelling system, something which could eventually turn into a marketable product. To that end, the goal of this team is to further develop the kirigami solar cell platform, pairing mechanical actuation with electronics and an app that will allow for module integration, easy installation, and automatic calibration for a user’s latitude. The team will also make a scaled version of the device compatible with residential building codes.

More Information: 2017-Kirigami-Solar

Students who successfully match to this faculty research team will be required to sign the following document in January 2017:

Student IP Agreement for Faculty Research Teams


How to Apply

Project Features

  • Skill level All levels
  • Students 7-13
  • Likely Majors BBA, ChE, CEE, CE, CS, ECE, EE, IOE, MSE, MATH, ME, PHYSICS
  • Course Substitutions ECE Cognate
  • IP & NDA Required? Yes
  • Summer Opportunity Summer Funding Application
  • Structural Engineering (2 Students)

    Specific Tasks: packaging design/testing, ensuring compliance with laws/standards

    • Likely Majors: ME, MSE, CEE
  • Solar Cell Fabrication (1 Student)

    Specific Tasks: materials selection, solar cell assembly, electrical interfacing, validation

    • Likely Majors: MSE, ChE, EE, ECE
  • Mechatronics Design (2 Students)

    Specific Tasks: design of motor/gearing system and internal electronic control system

    • Likely Major: ME
  • Application Programming (2 Students)

    Specific Tasks: app creation, wireless communication with net/solar cells

    • Likely Majors: CSE/CS-LSA, CE, ECE
  • Optical Modeling (1 Student)

    Specific Tasks: light path simulation for optimization

    • Likely Majors: PHYS, EE, ECE, MATH
  • Business Model Exploration (1 Student)

    Specific Tasks: understanding of product ecosystem/market, concept model generation

    • Likely Majors: BBA, IOE
  • Apprentice Researcher (4 Students)

    Requirements: interest in project material, willingness to develop skills. OPEN TO FRESHMEN AND SOPHOMORES ONLY.

    • Likely Majors: ANY

Faculty Sponsor: Max ShteinMax Shtein
Associate Professor

Prof. Shtein earned his Baccalaureate at UC Berkeley (1998) and Ph.D. at Princeton University (2004) in Chemical Engineering. He joined the University of Michigan in 2004, where he now serves as Associate Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Applied Physics, Macromolecular Science and Engineering, Entrepreneurship, and Art & Design. His work has been recognized through several awards, including the MSE Department Achievement Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, College of Engineering-wide Vulcans Prize for Excellence in Education, the Holt Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Newport Award for Excellence and Leadership in Photonics and Optoelectronics, and the Materials Research Society (MRS) graduate student Gold Medal Award. He recently co-founded Arborlight, LLC (www.arborlight.com – a lighting technology company), and co-authored the book “Scalable Innovation:  A Guide for Inventors, Entrepreneurs, and IP Professionals.” (Taylor & Francis, ISBN-13: 978-1466590977, ISBN-10: 1466590971)