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  • Power Accessories

Photonics Spectra
Nov 2005
Sally B. Patterson

For many, the cell phone has become as much a fashion statement as a communication device, and there is a large market for decorative covers and carrying cases. But the truly techie fashionista might get a bigger charge out of new accessories that are not just for looks, but also for staying connected. 


Doctoral student Joe Hynek and colleagues at Iowa State University in Ames have used lightweight, flexible solar panels from Iowa Thin Films Technologies Inc., also in Ames, in the construction of a purse that allows one to recharge phones, PDAs or other handheld electronic devices anywhere, anytime. The panels transfer electricity to batteries via a cord and circuit to keep one wired even after the sun goes down. 

The researchers, who are also at work on a hat, are seeking to strike a balance between functional technology and appealing, wearable design. Ultimately, they foresee becoming technical consultants to textile and clothing companies — not actually manufacturing the apparel themselves. Meanwhile, their prototypes may edge out duct tape for must-have geek chic.

The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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