A team from the George Washington University created a new solar cell that utilizes nearly all available power in the entire solar spectrum which means that their new solar panels produce almost 2x as much power as regular ones!
“The new design, which converts direct sunlight to electricity with 44.5 percent efficiency, has the potential to become the most efficient solar cell in the world.” – George Washington Today
A $900,000.00 grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to the George Washington University created an opportunity for engineers to partner up and develop one of the most efficient solar power cell to date. What makes these solar cells unique is that they have multiple layers to them that collect energy from every available solar spectrum and are made up of concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) panels which uses magnifying lenses to beam light onto tiny solar cells underneath. The different layer of cells capture different wavelengths of energy and are filtered through and stored depending on the cell layer and wavelength creating a vessel that harnesses even more power than standard cells.
“According to Dr. Lumb, of the Naval Research Laboratory, the cells are created with premium quality crystals that reflect and bounce light which then is split six ways depending on their solar spectrum, this creates the electrons needed to power up solar harvesting panels.”
Regular solar panels harness about a fourth of the available solar power but these new ones capture and convert 44.5% to energy and while the new and complex solar panels cost more to create, researchers believe there is a market for the concentrated solar tech advancement. According to Dr. Lumb, of the Naval Research Laboratory, the cells are created with premium quality crystals that reflect and bounce light which then is split six ways depending on their solar spectrum, this creates the electrons needed to power up solar harvesting panels.
Just how efficient are these cells in comparison with current technology? “Defining efficiency can be complicated,” Dr. Lumb told George Washington University Today. Efficiency in terms of solar power refers to how much power a solar cell produces and the current world record for amount generated from a concentrated solar cell was measured at 46%, the team at George Washington University have a goal of at least 50%.
While this particular solar cell is currently very expensive to create, the projects goal is to push the limit as to what is possible for these types of solar power creations. The research was done through a $24 million dollar project funded by Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy which funds 11 different teams across the United States with the goal of reducing the cost and increasing the power of photovaltiac solar cells.