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Solar improving design/tech

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Turn Steel Into Solar Panels With Photovoltaic Spray Paint. 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. If extended, the technology can find its way to the automobile industry where photo-sensitive dyes can be applied to cars to generate electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen for fuel cells.

Imagine the applications of such a product. 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.

Harry Atwater Pursues Higher Solar Power Efficiency by Combining Optical Techniques With Conventional Solar Cells

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. A/C Solar Generator. A new dimension for solar energy. Intensive research around the world has focused on improving the performance of solar photovoltaic cells and bringing down their cost.

A new dimension for solar energy

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. New super-cheap, ultra-thin solar cells could threaten fossil fuel dominance. Solar panels as tiles. The next generation of solar panels will bear little resemblance to their predecessors, at least on the outside.

solar panels as tiles

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. Today’s versions still stand out, but advancing technology like thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) could offer nearly invisible solar coverage. Quantum Dots +efficiency. When it comes to turning sunlight into electricity, today's technology leaves lots of room for improvement.

Quantum Dots +efficiency

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. When light hits a solar cell, a fraction of its energy is absorbed, exciting electrons in the cell's material and knocking them free.

Not only was the transfer successful, it was also very fast. Photonics, more efficient. 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.

photonics, more efficient

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. U.S. engineers invented the solar panel, and the U.S. should be dominating that market. Instead, foreign manufacturers (particularly in China) have taken our IP and run with it, as we become increasingly dependent on foreign oil and dirty coal operations to meet our power needs. Fortunately HyperSolar, a new U.S. company, offers a ray of sunny hope on the clean energy frontier. 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.

Artificial Solar Leaves: Tack 'em to Your House!

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. Of course, each little panel has to be individually wired to its neighbor, so that they can all produce electricity for the house. But the result is still both impressive and inexpensive. Nano-material builds a better electrode, 'nanodomes' and 'plasmonics' 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.

'nanodomes' and 'plasmonics'

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. So, when your iPod is on the nod, you might plug it into your shirt to recharge. Lost in the Serengeti with a sapped cell phone? It is not hard to envision a time when such technologies will be ubiquitous in our increasingly energy-hungry lives.

Better light absorbing. Black Solar Cell Absorbs 99.7% of All Light. 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,