Stanford engineers have developed a transparent silicon overlay that can increase the efficiency of solar cells by keeping them cool. The cover collects and then radiates heat directly into space, without interfering with incoming photons. If mass-produced, the development could be used to cool down any device in the open air – for instance, to complement air conditioning in cars.
One of the challenges facing designers of traditional flat solar panels
is the fact that the sun doesn't conveniently stay in one place. This
means that in order for a panel to receive as much sunlight as possible,
it has to pan with the sun as it moves across the sky. While
there are motorized assemblies designed to do just that, they add
complexity, weight and expense to photovoltaic systems. Now, however,
University of Michigan scientists have developed a simpler alternative –
and it's based on the ancient Japanese cut-paper art of kirigami.
Researchers claim to have hit on the right combination of solar cell type and battery to charge an electric vehicle battery with higher efficiency than ever before. The team behind the research says the system could soon make it possible to attach small cells to a car that will charge the vehicle while being driven – on a sunny day, at least.
Scientists at Northwestern University and the U.S. Department of Energy have found that perovskite cells, one of the most promising solar technologies of recent years, can repay their energy cost over 10 times faster than traditional silicon-based solar cells. The finding confirms that, once issues related to cell longevity are ironed out, perovskite cells could soon bring us solar energy on the cheap, and do so with less impact on the environment over their lifetime.
The scientists that revealed the "world's first solar battery" last year are now, following some modifications, reporting its first significant performance milestone. The device essentially fits a battery and solar cell into the one package, and has now been tested against traditional lithium-iodine batteries, over which the researchers are claiming energy savings of 20 percent.
One of the most promising forms of artificial photosynthesis involves using solar energy to split liquid water to produce oxygen and hydrogen gas, which can be stored and used as a clean fuel. And one of the most promising semiconductor materials for such a task is gallium phosphide (GaP), which can convert sunlight into an electrical charge and also split water. Unfortunately, the material is expensive, but researchers have now used a processed form of gallium phosphide to create a prototype solar fuel cell that not only requires 10,000 times less of the precious material, but also boosts the hydrogen yield by a factor of 10.
Researchers at the University of Aalto, Finland have broken the efficiency record for black silicon solar cells – a type of cell that can gather sunlight even from tight angles – by almost four percent.