Looking Beyond The Horizon

Innovative Technologies & Services

Solar cell reaching out to sunlight

Posted by evolvingwheel on April 20, 2007

A solar wafer with tower shaped micro-receptors that can absorb sunlight from all different angles. The outcome – the solar cell has high efficiency all throughout the day, not just the noon time when the sun is right on the top. That’s what Jud Ready at Georgia Tech came up with a new design for solar cells, where the sun goes in angles and the efficiency of the device increases. The solar panels (photovoltaic arrays) on this small yacht at sea can charge the 12 V batteries at up to 9 A in full, direct sunlight

The researcher and his team have designed a pretty nifty fabrication with carbon nanotube towers sitting on a substrate. For more details, please read the [article]. However, one element of concern is the efficiency of the device, which hovers around 7%. The researcher is also targeting towards space technology for commercialization. I would rather consider looking at the commercialization of the technology in consumer solar cells. Furthermore, the cycle time to get to the market looks pretty long. The way things are moving around the alternative energy market, there could be very competitive solutions with better efficiencies soon. So the innovator needs to find ways to bring his invention faster to conventional solar components. 

One other idea I have – how about increasing surface area for absorption depending upon the inclination and direction of the sun? Let’s say there is a nano substrate or base material which responds to thermal energy by expanding in micro scale. If the towers are standing on the base materials, which could be an array of granules that expand with heat, the towers will rise up and down depending upon the incidence of heat on its base material. It will look like a moving mountain or a wave that moves up and down and the towers protrude up or sink in accordingly.

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