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Woven Light

Research project: Aug 2016 to Jul 2018

Design of a Solar Fiber Tension Structure Shade Prototype Using Fiber Optic Strands
Project description: 

The Woven Light project is a solar fiber tension structure shade prototype that substitutes polymer fiber optic strands for solar photovoltaic [PV] strands to understand the problems and potential for PV fibers in fabrics. If architects, landscape architects, engineers, and designers can understand what is involved manufacturing with PV fibers, they can begin to address some of the problems encountered when using the fibers in applications such as tension structures made with fabrics, as well as clothing and other fabric-based objects that can benefit from the collection of energy from sunlight. 

The first phase of design includes novel approaches to solar gathering tension structure design in three ways: (1) designing for flexible uses or programming in a landscape; (2) designing a parametric, form-active flexible structure to accommodate the manipulation of light; and (3) designing a fabric that manipulates light by absorption, reflection, and transmission light. Contributions include a design system that accommodates several configurations using form active compressive components and designs for related textile cut patterns. Contributions at the scale of the fabric include an energy model for the photo voltaic fiber.

A second phase of design involves manufacturing a bespoke textile with fiber optic strands to test the manufacturability of our textile design.

Principal Investigator (PI):

Felecia Davis


Jeffrey Brownson (MSE), Tim Baird, Stephen Treado (AE)

Research assistants:

Sadiqa Ansari, Pomi Aschenaki (AE), Diva Avenoor (Biotechnology, Eberly College of Science), Xiao Han, Niloofar Nikookar, Vernelle Noel, Siddharth Swaminathan. MArchEng, College of Engineering

Units at Penn State:

Materials Science and Engineering, College of Earth and Material Sciences
Architectural Engineering, College of Engineering