Sandia National Laboratories have unveiled their newest photovoltaic cells -- glitter-sized particles made of crystalline silicon. The cells are made using common microelectronic and microelectromechanical systems techniques, and the results are pretty spectacular to behold. More interestingly, however, is the fact that they use 100 times less material in generating the same amount of energy as a regular solar cell.

Because of their size and shape, the cells are well-suited to unusual applications, and researchers envision mass-production of the cells for use on building-integrated tents or clothing, so campers (or military personnel) could recharge their cell phones on the go. Researchers also think that these particles will be inexpensive to produce, but there's no word on when they'll be ready for consumer application. We'll keep you posted -- but hit the source link for more a more detailed description.

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Snowflake-shaped photovoltaic cells bring the holiday cheer