Nepalese teen's science project: a solar panel made from human hair

A schoolboy from Nepal has come up with a recession-busting new solar panel which replaces the silicon component with human hair. Milan Karki, an 18-year-old student from the region of Khotang, devised the idea after discovering that hair pigment Melanin acts as an energy converter.

Each panel, which is around 15 inches square, produces 9 Volts (18 Watts) of energy, and costs $38 to make. This, it has to be said, is mainly due to the price of the raw materials: half a kilo of human hair costs around 25¢ in Nepal. Karki is hoping to commercialize his invention, which can charge a cellphone or power batteries to provide an evening's worth of light, and eventually mass produce it.

"First I wanted to provide electricity for my home, then my village," says Karki, who was inspired by British physicist Stephen Hawking. "Now I am thinking for the whole world. We have begun the long walk to save the planet." Catch a shot of the teenager's invention below.