No more solar cells covering a roof, but around the edges of a flat glass panel, as shown in the artist’s representation by NSF.
MIT engineers say they’ve created a new approach to harnessing the sun’s energy that provide windows with a clear view and illuminate rooms at the same time without the need for tracking devices.
According to a news release from MIT , the solar concentrator collects light at the edges, and dye molecules coated on the glass absorb sunlight and re-emits it at different wavelengths. The light is trapped within the glass and transported to solar cells along the edge, creating electricity and allowing light into the room as well.
The mixture of dyes is applied to the surface of the glass and allows light to travel a much longer distance. Mapel said, that as a result, light transportation losses were significantly reduced, resulting in a “tenfold increase in the amount of power converted by the solar cells.”
Marc A Baldo, leader of the work, is quoted as saying; “the focused light increases the electrical power obtained from each solar cell by a factor of over 40″. The article went on to say that because of its simplicity and ease of manufacture, the system could be implemented within three years. It could even be added to existing solar-panel systems, increasing their efficiency by 50 percent for minimal additional cost.
Other researchers involved in the project are Michael Currie, Jon Mapel and Timothy Heidel, all students of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Shalom Goffri, a postdoctoral associate in MIT’s Research Labortary of Electronics.
The new technology will be developed and commercialized by a new company, Covalent Solar, formed by Mapel, Currie and Goffri.