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Solar Cell

One of the decal-like solar panels, applied to a business card

Traditionally, thin-film solar cells are made with rigid glass substrates, limiting their potential applications. Flexible versions do exist, although they require special production techniques and/or materials. Now, however, scientists from Stanford University have created thin, flexible solar cells that are made from standard materials – and they can applied to just about any surface, like a sticker.  Read More

The nanoscale metal mesh that makes up the top layer of the sandwich-like PlaCSH material

One of the main reasons that solar cells aren’t more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity is because much of that sunlight is reflected off the cell, or can’t be fully absorbed by it. A new sandwich-like material created by researchers at Princeton University, however, is claimed to dramatically address that problem – by minimizing reflection and increasing absorption, it reportedly boosts the efficiency of organic solar cells by 175 percent.  Read More

The electree+ harvests solar energy through 27 amorphous-silicon square solar panels

Sitting somewhere between the "solar trees" erected on parking garages at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD) and the nanotrees developed on the same campus, the electree+ is a sculptural bonsai tree with 27 solar cells for "leaves." The tree's branches can be adjusted to catch the rays just right, and its internal battery will store enough electricity to charge an iPhone5 nine times over, a Galaxy S3 seven times, or an iPad 2 twice.  Read More

The Aquarius Eco Ship concept based on the EnergySail technology that uses solar panels em...

In the 400 years or so leading up to the adoption of steam power in the 19th century, sailing ships ruled the waves. In an effort to cut increasing fuel costs and reduce emissions, sails are set to once again prove their worth. But unlike the sails proposed by B9 Shipping and the Wind Challenger Project, Japan-based Eco Marine Power (EMP) is developing sails with an even more modern twist. Rather than just harnessing the power of the wind, EMP’s EnergySail can be fitted with solar panels to also harness solar power.  Read More

A hybrid nanomaterial synthesized by combining copper sulfide nanoparticles and SWNTs can ...

We’ve seen nanomaterials that can be used to convert light into electricity and others that can convert heat into electricity. Now researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington and Louisana Tech University have created a hybrid nanomaterial that can do both. By pairing the material with microchips, the researchers say it could be used in self-powered sensors, low-power electronic devices, and biomedical implants.  Read More

The all-carbon solar cell consists of a photoactive layer, made of carbon nanotubes and bu...

Researchers at Stanford University have developed an experimental solar cell made entirely of carbon. In addition to providing a promising alternative to the increasingly expensive materials used in traditional solar cells, the thin film prototype is made of carbon materials that can be coated onto surfaces from a solution, cutting manufacturing costs and offering the potential for coating flexible solar cells onto buildings and car windows.  Read More

Dark silicon could improve efficiency in traditional solar cells by harvesting energy in t...

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications have developed a system that allows solar cells to effectively harvest energy from the infrared spectrum, tapping into a source of energy that in the past has mostly been out of reach. The new technology, which promises to work well with commercially available solar cells, has the potential of becoming a standard in the solar panels of tomorrow.  Read More

V3Solar has developed a cone-shaped solar energy harvester that is claimed to generate ove...

For the vast majority of those looking to harvest energy from the sun to satisfy domestic or business electricity needs, the photovoltaic world is a static and flat one. Even many large scale solar farms feature row upon row of rigid panels, although there may at least be some movement as the panels follow the path of the sun as it moves across the sky. V3Solar's Spin Cell is a little different. It's claimed to be capable of generating over 20 times more electricity than a flat panel with the same area of PV cells thanks to a combination of concentrating lenses, dynamic spin, conical shape, and advanced electronics.  Read More

Adding plant proteins greatly enhances silicon solar cells (Image: Julie Turner/Vanderbilt...

Popeye gets his strength from downing a can of spinach and what works for him also works for solar panels. Researchers at Vanderbilt University led by David Cliffel and Kane Jennings have come up with a way to dope silicon with a protein found in spinach to create a more efficient "biohybrid" solar cell that produces substantially more electrical current than previous efforts and may one day lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels.  Read More

A new technique allows photovoltaic solar cells to be produced using any semiconductor (Ph...

Despite their ability to generate clean, green electricity, solar panels aren't as commonplace as the could be. The main sticking point, of course, is price. Due to their need for relatively expensive semiconductor materials, conventional solar cells don't yet have a price-efficiency combination that can compete with other sources of electricity. Now Profs. Alex Zettl and Feng Wang of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have developed seriously unconventional solar cell technology that allows virtually any semiconductor material to be used to create photovoltaic cells.  Read More

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