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Solar Cell

A soldier in a fictitious but realistic urban, desert environment, with superimposed numbe...

If you’ve ever removed the battery from a laptop, then you will know that it constitutes quite a large percentage of the total weight of the computer. Well, if you think you’ve got it tough lugging that laptop battery around, consider the plight of infantry soldiers – they have to carry multiple batteries to power devices such as weapons, radios, and GPS equipment, and they have to do so for hours at a time, often under very harsh conditions. Attempts to lighten the 45 to 70 kg (99 to 154 lb) loads typically carried by soldiers currently include the use of fuel cells, li-ion batteries woven into their clothing, and autonomous pack horse-like vehicles. Now, UK researchers are adding their two pence-worth, by developing wearable solar and thermoelectric power systems.  Read More

A microchannel created using the laser scribing technique (Photo: Purdue University School...

A new manufacturing method that incorporates laser technology may result in thin film solar panels that are less expensive and more efficient than anything presently on the market. Currently, a stylus is used to mechanically etch microchannels into such panels, which electrically connect the individual solar cells and allow them to form an array. Researchers from Indiana’s Purdue University, however, are developing a technique in which an ultrafast pulsing laser is used to do the etching. Not only will it hopefully be quicker and cheaper than mechanical “scribing,” but it should also produce cleaner, sharper microchannels that offer superior performance.  Read More

AQUASUN is a system of floating solar panels, that can be installed on the surface of exis...

One of the potentially limiting characteristics of solar power is the fact that it takes up a lot of space. Solar panels obviously aren’t going to be of much use if they’re stacked one on top of the other, so instead must be spread out side-by-side, so each one can soak up the sun. Although they’re generally not in the way when mounted on top of buildings, large arrays of solar panels could start to become a hindrance when located on the ground. Tech companies from Israel and France, however, are developing what could be a way of avoiding that situation – floating solar panels that are installed on the surface of existing bodies of water.  Read More

The flexible organic transistor, made with flexible polymers and carbon-based materials, t...

Last September we covered a story about a pressure-sensitive artificial skin developed at Stanford University that is so sensitive it can “feel” the weight of a butterfly. As part of a goal to create what she calls “super skin,” Stanford researcher Zhenan Bao is now giving the artificial skin the ability to detect chemical and biological molecules. Not only that, she has also developed a new, stretchable solar cell that can be used to power the skin, opening up the possibility of an artificial skin for robots that can be used to power them and enable them to detect dangerous chemicals or diagnose medical conditions with a touch.  Read More

Quantum dot solar cells could offer a cheaper, more efficient alternative to conventional ...

Developing solar cells that are cheaper to produce and can harness the sun’s energy more efficiently are both important factors in ensuring the widespread use of solar energy to provide a clean alternative to fossil fuels in the future. Stanford researchers have found that adding a single layer of organic molecules can achieve both these goals by increasing three-fold the efficiency of quantum dot solar cells, which are cheaper to produce than traditional solar cells.  Read More

HyperSolar intends to produce a thin, flat, clear solar concentrator, that could boost the...

Solar cells are the most expensive part of a solar panel, so it would follow that if panels could produce the same amount of electricity with less cells, then their prices would come down. In order for panels to be able to do so using existing cell technology, however, they would need to get more light to the fewer cells that they still had. Mounting the panels on the end of vertical poles to get them closer to the sun is one possible approach, that might work in the town of Bedrock or on Gilligan’s Island. A better idea, though, is to apply a clear layer of solar concentrators to the surface of a panel – and that’s just what HyperSolar intends to do.  Read More

A miniature helicopter is powered by electricity generated by the previous SolarWindow pro...

Over the past several years, a number of companies and institutions have been developing technologies that could allow windows to double as solar panels. These have included EnSol’s metal nanoparticle-based spray-on product, RSi’s photovoltaic glass and Octillion’s NanoPower window. Last September, Maryland-based New Energy Technologies joined the party by demonstrating a 4 x 4 inch (10.2 x 10.2 cm) prototype of its SolarWindow product. This Tuesday, the company unveiled a working 12 x 12 inch (30.5 x 30.5 cm) prototype, which takes it significantly closer to becoming commercially-viable.  Read More

Berkeley researchers Kin Man Yu and Wladek Walukiewicz (Photo: Berkeley Lab)

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have come a step closer to the development of a commercially-viable full-spectrum solar cell. Traditionally, due to their limited band gap (energy range), semiconductors used in solar cells have only been able to respond to a certain segment of the solar spectrum – this segment varies, according to the semiconductor. Some cells have been created that respond to everything from low-energy infrared through visible light to high-energy ultraviolet, but these have been costly to produce and thus unfit for common use. The new cell, however, responds to almost the entire spectrum, and can be made using one of the semiconductor industry’s most common manufacturing processes.  Read More

Honda Soltec announces smaller, more efficient thin film solar cell design

A few years back we reported on the establishment of Honda Soltec, a Honda subsidiary devoted to the development of thin-film solar technology. This week that same group announced that it would be releasing a new thin-film cell that will rank among the world's most efficient with an expected module conversion efficiency of more than 13%.  Read More

An antireflective film inspired by moth's eyes has been shown to improve the efficiency of...

In order for a solar cell to be as efficient as possible, the last thing it should be is reflective – after all, light should be getting absorbed by it, not being bounced off. With that in mind, a few years ago a group of Japanese scientists set out to create an antireflective film coating for use on solar cells. What they ended up creating utilizes the same principles that are at work in one of nature’s least reflective surfaces: moth’s eyes.  Read More

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