Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dyeing to Boost Solar Efficiency by 50%

MIT has perfected a dye technology that could change the solar world as we know it.

The most efficient form of solar technology today is (arguably) extreme concentrated photovoltaics, essentially solar panels placed under a magnifying glass. But the problem with these systems is heat.

Concentrated sunlight can melt silicon solar panels unless you include specialized cooling systems. Cooling technology costs money, and the panels require expensive tracking mechanisms to follow the sun through the day. MIT’s new solar system bypasses the heat and tracking problems all together.

Thin coatings of organic dyes absorb sunlight and redirect favored wavelengths into a pane of glass. The light is aimed and concentrated towards the edge of the pane where small solar panels are located. The concentrated light allows the panels to produce the maximum possible amount of energy all day, every day without cooling systems or complex tracking mechanisms.

“In addition, the focused light increases the electrical power obtained from each solar cell “by a factor of over 40.”" According to Marc A Baldo, an associate professor at MIT who helped lead the project. For more technical details, you may need an AAAS membership to read the Science article.
Three Reasons Why This Could Rock the Solar World:

1) It’s Easy: The technology is neither complex or difficult to manufacture.
2) Upgrade Existing Solar
3) It’s Coming Soon: MIT claims this technology could be ready for commercial production within three years.

Read details from Clean Technica

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