image: Rensselaer/Shawn Lin
This is why Shawn-Yu Lin of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute thinks he can change the solar power game:
To get maximum efficiency when converting solar power into electricity, you want a solar panel that can absorb nearly every single photon of light, regardless of the sun's position in the sky. Our new antireflective coating makes this possible.
Think this is mere enthusiasm, maybe not. Read on:
Seven Coating Layers Enhance Each Other's Ability to Absorb Light
Lin says that he's gotten around the problem of solar panels absorbing only part of the light which hits them by develop a seven-layer coating which allows the panel to absorb 96.21% of the sunlight that falls on it. This compares to untreated panels which may only be able to use about two-thirds of the light hitting them.
What's more, because this coating allows the panel to do this with all angles of light hitting it, it could eliminate the practice used by some solar arrays of using mechanical trackers to follow the sun throughout the day.
Each Layer 50-100 Nanometers Thick
Further describing the multi-layer coating, RPI's press release stated,
The seven layers, each with a height of 50 nanometers to 100 nanometers, are made up of silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide nanorods positioned at an oblique angle — each layer looks and functions similar to a dense forest where sunlight is "captured" between the trees. The nanorods were attached to a silicon substrate via chemical vapor disposition [...] the new coating can be affixed to nearly any photovoltaic materials for use in solar cells, including III-V multi-junction and cadmium telluride.
More details of the research were published this week in Optics Letters (account required for full article).
New Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell Efficiency Record
In other solar news: Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, working in conjunction with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, have announced that they have achieved a new efficiency record for dye-sensitized solar cells of 10%. More on this from: Live Science.
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