For the smart buildings of the future.
There’s a huge untapped potential for solar energy across America’s shining skyscrapers.
We’re getting closer to the ideal silicon solar cell.
Another confirmation that solar energy is moving fast.
Fossil fuels could soon be a thing of the past.
On the desk of Seokheun “Sean” Choi sits a 3×3 array that at first glance looks like a lemon squeezer. It is, in fact, a solar panel but not like any you’ve seen or heard about before. Instead of using semiconductors like silicon crystals to convert sunlight into electricity, the array employs a complex system that nurtures cyanobacteria — beings whose metabolism create free electrons which can be harnessed.
Despite solar cells made with perovskite recently crossed the 20 percent efficiency mark, researchers say there’s still room to improve if only they knew how charge flows at the nanometer scale. They just had to ask.
There’s an inherent flaw in solar cells: the metal wiring that’s quintessential to harnessing the electrons reflects the incoming light, acting like a mirror. Now, must people would brush off this issue and leave it like that. It’s a necessary trade off. But a team at Stanford University devised an elegant chemical technique that basically hides the wiring with silicon, away from the light while preserving energy harnessing. Metal wires cover 5 to 10 percent of a solar cell’s surface. Now, in the same area more light can be absorbed, hence more electricity generated which jumps the efficiency. Of course, this also means cheaper solar panels — if only the chemical technique is covered by the recurring costs of increased efficiency.
University of Michigan researchers have devised what looks like the world’s first fully transparent solar cell. Think of all of those tall glass buildings; wouldn’t it be nice if all that incoming solar energy was harvested somehow? Likewise, why not let your smartphone charge up a bit while it’s taking a tan. Of course this isn’t a new idea, but previous attempts are rather unattractive because the compromise makes windows too shady or dark. After all, the purpose of a window is to let light in, not make energy. Ideally, you’d want them harness energy as well, complementary. The new system devised at UM is exciting because it offers exactly this: energy generation, with no compromise in visibility.
The most efficient solar cells are those that convert incoming concentrated solar power via lenses, the sort you see on the International Space Station or in the sun-soaked Middle East where Shams 1, a 100 MW CSP plant – the largest in the world – operates, powering 20,000 United Arab Emirates homes. Because of their complex nature, concentrated solar power arrays have
Solar cell technology has improved dramatically over the past couple of year, yet it will be a long time before multi-junction cells – then kind that can reach efficiency well over 40% – will become affordable to small home owners or even large scale installation. New methods are always explored, however, each with its own angle to harnessing solar energy, benefits
Apart from both being shiny, it’s hard to see any connection between a Blu-ray disk and a solar panel. Northwestern University researchers thought outside the box, however, and used the disk’s tiny stamped grooves and pits to make molds for solar panels. Because of the resulting structure’s geometry, the solar cells were able to absorb 21.8% more light. Overall, the
Lead-acid car batteries used to be the norm, but luckily we’re seeing a massive shift towards more efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives like lithium-ion. Still, there are fleets of hundreds of millions of cars that still employ these archaic and toxic batteries. Typically, manufacturers try to have car owners bring their old lead-acid batteries, which are then converted into more
Researchers at University of Sheffield demonstrate a perovskite spray-on solar cell for the first time. Also, this is the first time rated efficiency for a spray-on solar cell tops two figures in efficiency, marking an important milestone and breakthrough in the field.
Austrlian researchers have successfully developed transparent, ultra-thin, foldable solar cells.
While scientists have been studying and incrementally increasing solar cell efficiency, we’ve yet to reach nature’s magnitude of solar energy conversion through photosynthesis. Artificial photosynthesis is a goal in alternative energy research, yet the process is extremely difficult to mimic since, in nature, the process involves numerous stages and transformation of matter and energy. Purdue University physicists used spinach and applied
A crystal known to science for more than a century has only in recent years become recognized for its use in harvesting solar power. Since the first successful usage of perovskite in solar cells in 2009, the advances in the field have grown exponentially over time, making it a potential candidate for revamping the solar industry. Indeed, the crystal might
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report they’ve devised a new type of highly efficient solar cell that is potentially easier to manufacture and cheaper than cells of similar performance. The stacked cell allows photon energy to be garnered from across the whole solar spectrum, and this new design makes use of a novel technique which basically electrically
The most basic principle of a solar cell is that it works by transferring the energy from an incoming photon (light) to a molecule, which causes one or more electrons to become displaced until an electrical current is formed. That’s the absolute gist of it, only besides electricity, some of the incoming photon energy gets lost as waste heat. Oddly
Scientists have made great efforts to discover a material that can be used to both absorb and emit light. A fluke may have suffice, since researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore discovered by accident a material that can be used to work as a solar panel, harnessing energy from the sun during the day, as well as a