Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel has developed a table that is able to transform sunlight into enough energy to charge your gadgets. The Current Table, as it is called, is capable of performing in this way due to a special process that is very similar to photosynthesis in plants. More specifically, the table is covered by glass panels that contain a dye-synthesized solar cell, which utilizes color properties to generate an electrical current, in much the same way that plants use green chlorophyll to transform sunlight into energy.
To make the table work this way, small particles of titanium dioxide were placed on a piece of transparent glass, which is dyed orange. The dyeing technique used allows the titanium dioxide to absorb sunlight more efficiently. Once sunlight hits the tabletop, the electrons stored in the titanium dioxide are released, which creates an electrical current that can be used to power your smart phone or tablet. And when the electricity is not being used directly, it can be stored inside a battery.
This innovative table is also able to create energy indoors, out of direct sunlight, which is an improvement over traditional solar cells that need direct sunlight in order to create an electrical current. The table also comes equipped with a USB charging point that features an indicator telling the user how much charge is in the table at any given time.
The level of sunlight available does, however, still influence charging times, in that the more direct it is, the lower the charging time is. According to the designer, a single cell takes about eight hours to charge a battery fully, and each of the USB ports on the table is powered by four cells.
Marjan collaborated with a company called Solaronix on developing this table. Solaronix makes the inexpensive dye solar cells that were used to cover the table. These types of cells are not as common as regular photovoltaic cells, but are, however, better at absorbing indirect light. This is the main reason why they work great indoors and out of direct sunlight.
One of the uses the designer envisioned for the table is placing it in libraries, restaurants or other public places, where they could offer visitors a way to charge their gadgets without the need to lay cables. However, this solar powered table also seems a great opportunity to bring solar energy into the homes of the general population, where it could work to offset the amount of energy the household uses. In fact, if placed over larger pieces of furniture, such solar cells could, conceivably, even be used to power equipment that is an even bigger consumer of electrical power. The cells on the table do, however, have to be kept spotlessly clean in order to function properly.
Next month, the Current Table will go on display at Salone Satellite in Milan, which is part of Salone Internazionale del Mobile.