Solar improving design/tech
No, it's not a joke or a crazy awesome futuristic concept . It's real. Tata Steel Europe (formerly Corus) and Swansea University in Wales, UK are collaborating to develop a spray-on technology that would transform steel sheets into solar panels. Earth and Industry says , The technology has significant applications since it is highly efficient even in diffused sunlight. Therefore, countries at higher latitudes or those with limited solar energy resource can generate significant amounts of solar-powered electricity with going for large-scale power plants.
Harry Atwater Pursues Higher Solar Power Efficiency by Combining Optical Techniques With Conventional Solar Cells Harry Atwater thinks his lab can make an affordable device that produces more than twice the solar power generated by today’s panels. The feat is possible, says the Caltech professor of materials science and applied physics, because of recent advances in the ability to manipulate light at a very small scale. Solar panels on the market today consist of cells made from a single semiconducting material, usually silicon.
A/C Solar Generator
Intensive research around the world has focused on improving the performance of solar photovoltaic cells and bringing down their cost. But very little attention has been paid to the best ways of arranging those cells, which are typically placed flat on a rooftop or other surface, or sometimes attached to motorized structures that keep the cells pointed toward the sun as it crosses the sky. Now, a team of MIT researchers has come up with a very different approach: building cubes or towers that extend the solar cells upward in three-dimensional configurations. Amazingly, the results from the structures they’ve tested show power output ranging from double to more than 20 times that of fixed flat panels with the same base area. A new dimension for solar energy
The march toward viable alternative energies may have just taken a crucial step forward. Twin Creeks Technologies, a US-based solar energy startup, unveiled this week a new type of ultra-thin solar cell that cost half as much to produce as comparable cells. The drop in price could allow solar to serve as a practical alternative to fossil fuels. The secret to Twin Creeks’ new solar cells is thinness. New super-cheap, ultra-thin solar cells could threaten fossil fuel dominance
The next generation of solar panels will bear little resemblance to their predecessors, at least on the outside. Companies like SRS Energy, Kyocera and Suntech Power are working with building suppliers on alternatives to clunky solar panels that will satisfy the demands of picky property owners, creating products like solar roofing tiles that blend in with the traditional clay versions found on many Southern California homes. Aesthetics have long been a complaint of homeowners who were interested in switching to renewable power, but were unhappy with the looks of conventional solar panels. Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are solar installations that also serve as functional building materials including roofing, shading systems and window glazing.
When it comes to turning sunlight into electricity, today's technology leaves lots of room for improvement. The most efficient solar cells on the market, which are made of silicon, convert less than 20 percent of the light that hits them into electricity, and the theoretical maximum efficiency of these cells is around 31 percent. One reason for this low efficiency is that much of the incoming light contains energy that is too high for solar cells to capture, so it's lost as heat. Now researchers have shown that it's possible to harvest that energy before it escapes, meaning that engineers could one day develop next-generation solar cells with efficiencies of up to 66 percent. The research, funded by the Department of Energy, is described in the June 18 edition of the journal Science. Quantum Dots +efficiency
As the U.S. government continues to heap billions in subsidies to the world's wealthiest coal and oil companies, the solar industry has been struggling to make it in the United States. This is sad for many reasons, not the least of which is that we're missing out on one of the biggest growth industries in the world. Currently there are 16 gigawatts of installed solar power globally. That number will grow to about 1,800 gigawatts in the next 20 years, making it one of the best job creators.
Artificial Solar Leaves: Tack 'em to Your House! Written by Hank Green on 03/03/08 A new sustainable design group called SMIT (Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology) has been working on a pretty awesome little invention. Instead of mounting big-ol' solar panels on heavy rigid structures that need reinforcement and special installers, they've put the solar panels on small, flexible, durable pieces of plastic. And then they tacked the pieces of plastic to a house.
nano-material builds a better electrode, From the apple falling on Newton's head to batteries made out of root extract, scientists have long turned to nature for ideas. Following that tradition, the brainiacs over at the University of Reading have developed a new nano-material electrode coating based on the cellular structure of plants. Essentially a network of tiny wires, it features a larger surface area than flat electrodes, giving it the leverage it needs to convert more electricity in a smaller form factor.
Images courtesy of Michael McGehee Acting like a waffle iron, silicon nanodomes, each about 300 nanometers in diameter and 200 nanometers tall, imprint a honeycomb pattern of nanoscale dimples into a layer of metal within the solar cell. Titania within the solar cell is imprinted by the silicon nanodomes like a waffle imprinted by the iron. Researchers in solar energy speak of a day when millions of otherwise fallow square meters of sun-drenched roofs, windows, deserts and even clothing will be integrated with inexpensive solar cells that are many times thinner and lighter than the bulky rooftop panels familiar today. 'nanodomes' and 'plasmonics'
better light absorbing
© Natcore Technology Scientists over at Natcore Tech have created what is now the "blackest" solar cell to date. While that might sound as trivial as creating a white iPhone, this is a fairly huge advancement in the world of solar technology. With an average reflectance of 0.3%, these black silicon wafers absorb more light than any other out there, which means more of the sun's energy is actually converted into energy. By the way, reflectance is the ratio of reflected light to that of which actually hits the surface. So a reflectance of 0.3% means that only 0.3% of all light is reflected from the solar cell's surface and that the remaining 99.7% is absorbed.
absorbs infrared While we’ve seen solar cell efficiency squeak past 40% in labs this year, we’re still stuck commercially with panels that at most convert about 20% of what hits them into energy. Then there’s the whole “darkness” thing that cuts into production for part of the day. Researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory have potentially solved both issues by turning to another hot field: nanotechnology. From the article,