IBM has leveraged their computer-chip cooling know-how into a highly effective solar concentrator design. Bench-scale testing of the design (as pictured) shows an order of magnitude increase in solar power output from a unit cell. Other designers have worked out CPVs with similar concentrating lenses, typically paired with a tracking device. The cooling part of IBMs' design is the cool part: something no other designer has access to, presumably.
The trick lies in IBM's ability to cool the tiny solar cell. Concentrating the equivalent of 2000 suns on such a small area generates enough heat to melt stainless steel, something the researchers experienced first hand in their experiments. But by borrowing innovations from its own R&D; in cooling computer chips, the team was able to cool the solar cell from greater than 1600 degrees Celsius to just 85 degrees Celsius.
The initial results of this project will be presented at the 33rd IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists conference today, where the IBM researchers will detail how their liquid metal cooling interface is able to transfer heat from the solar cell to a copper cooling plate much more efficiently than anything else available today.
We wonder if they will sell only Mainframe Panels and if Apple will beat them to the Personal Panel market as a result?
Via::IBM, IBM Research Unveils Breakthrough In Solar Farm Technology - "Liquid Metal" at the Center of IBM Innovation to Significantly Reduce Cost of Concentrator Photovoltaic Cells