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.
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.
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%.
While rooftops are the obvious place to put solar cells to generate clean electricity for the home, we’ve seen a number of technologies aimed at expanding the potential solar collecting area to include windows using transparent solar cells. These include Octillion Corp’s NanoPower Window
technology, RSi’s semi-transparent photovoltaic glass windows
, and EnSol’s transparent thin film
. In this latest development, U.S. scientists have fabricated a new type of self-assembling transparent thin film material that could boost the cost effectiveness and scalability of solar window production.
Research has already shown that at the nanoscale, chemistry is different
and the same is apparently true for light, which Engineers at Stanford University say behaves differently at scales of around a nanometer. By creating solar cells thinner than the wavelengths of light the engineers say it is possible to trap the photons inside the solar cell for longer, increasing the chance they can get absorbed, thereby increasing the efficiency of the solar cell. In this way, they calculate that by properly configuring the thicknesses of several thin layers of films, an organic polymer thin film could absorb as much as 10 times more energy from sunlight than predicted by conventional theory.
and fuel cells
are seen as the two contenders to serve as a power source for the next generation of environmentally friendly vehicles. A significant barrier to achieving greater efficiency in the latter is the slow rate of oxygen production from the cathode, which limits the power output of the device. Now an unexpected find by MIT researchers regarding the behavior of incredibly thin sheets of material could lead to major improvements .
The miniaturization of electronic components has seen mobile devices shrink to the point where screen size is a major limiting factor. That could be set to change with Sony announcing it has developed a super-flexible full color OLED
display which can be repeatedly wrapped around a thin cylinder while still producing moving images. Could we soon see mobile phones with pencil form factors and roll out displays?
A team at University of Florida has developed a new thin film technology that can convert infrared light into visible light. In layman terms, we can stop eating carrots to improve our night vision because it might soon be applied cheaply to our eye glasses, car windshields, even our cell phones
, and it could be here in a little as 18 months.
Last month at the meeting of the Japan Society of Applied Physics, a research group from the Kyoto Institute of Technology introduced a new photovoltaic
cell that is capable of generating electricity not only from visible light, but from ultraviolet and infrared light as well. The research group, led by associate professor Saki Sonoda, hopes that this will lead to a more efficient PV cell that can be single-junction rather than the more conventional multi-junction.
Newly developed radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology could usher in the era of checkout line-free shopping. The inexpensive, printable transmitter can be invisibly embedded in packaging offering the possibility of customers walking a cartload of groceries or other goods past a scanner that would read all the items at once, total them up and charge the customer’s account while adjusting the store’s inventory. More advanced versions could even collect all the information about the contents of a store in an instant, letting a retailer know where every package is at any time.