With some news straight out of the “didn’t we just hear about something like this?” file (we did), some groundbreaking research has revealed that a near perfect solar panel has been created.
Scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have allegedly found a process that allows them to trap nine out of ten photons that hit a solar panel, providing a 90 percent collection rate. A new anti-reflective coating for the panels provides grounds for creating solar panels that don’t have to change their angle in order to collect energy.
With current technology, the photon absorption rate stands at an already impressive 67.4 percent, with the variable of whether or not the sun is actually hitting the cells. But the new cells which according to Shawn-Yu Lin, the man responsible for the project, function like a “dense forest where sunlight is ‘captured’ between the trees.” This happens through a process that not only involves the new anti-reflective coating, but also the bending of the path of the sunlight to an angle that allows maximum capture of sunlight.
With all possible variables at their best, Lin claims that the cells can capture 96.21 percent of the photons that hit their surface.
It looks as though today's 12-year-olds are well past the days of building model volcanoes for the school science fair. And if not, well, William Yuan just put the smackdown on the competition
Yuan, a seventh grader from Oregon, set out to improve solar technology, which at the moment could be a lot more efficient. And he appears to have done just that. Yuan's project, which he calls "A Highly-Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UV Light," could shake up the energy industry and lead to real change into how solar energy is harnessed and distributed.
For his project, Yuan used a special solar cell capable of harnessing both visible and ultraviolet light, whereas most solar cells use either photovoltaic (only visible light), or thermal. Ultraviolet light holds interest because it can potentially provide more energy than the longer-wavelength members of the electromagnetic spectrum. And if that weren't enough, Yuan designed his project so it could stand freely in three dimensions to collect more light, and to make use of carbon nanotubes to distribute the energy more efficiently than traditional cells.
For his efforts, Yuan received a well deserved $25,000 scholarship, a fellowship at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, and a various other awards.
In one second, the nuclear fusion process taking place inside the sun produces enough energy to satisfy the needs of the earth’s population for nearly 500,000 years. Photovoltaic cells are capable of capturing some of that energy and converting it into usable electricity; unfortunately, today’s technology can’t do this very efficiently.
French physicist Edmond Becquerel first described the photovoltaic effect in 1839. He discovered that some materials were capable of producing small amounts of electricity when exposed to sunlight. The first photovoltaic cell, however, wasn’t created until 1883, and more than 70 years passed before the next major scientific advance took place, when researchers at Bell Labs developed the first crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell in 1954.
In today’s world, people are beginning to judge each other based on their carbon karma and the power consumed by the gadgets they own. Sharp has developed a solar-powered LCD TV for all the alternative-energy patrons and parsimonious energy spenders. The LCD TV is three times more energy efficient than a regular CRT TV. And this frugal use of energy allows the LCD to completely depend on solar energy. A 26-inch prototype is on show at the upcoming Hokkaido Toyako Summit, Japan - better known as the G8 summit.
Sharp has also developed a solar cell module of the same size as the LCD TV to power it. The two will most probably be sold in conjugation, as if inseparable technological cognates. The company is targeting the product towards about 1/4th of the earth’s population which still has no or intermittent access to electricity. Many of these people might be living in such underdeveloped and impoverished places that they would be more interested in basic necessities of life than such flash technology.
But, of course, if Sharp can successfully sell this to even a very few of the world’s electricity-deprived populace, it certainly will be very happy.