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New solar energy collector so efficient it works at night
Posted on Saturday, January 05, 2008 @ 14:17:08 EST by vlad

Devices Kevin Spiess /neoseeker.com/ Friday, January 4th, 2008

Cheap "nanoantennas" for the win


As the price of oil continues to climb, new energy-collecting technologies are being developed, and they increasingly look more and more attractive. One of the latest, revealed by Idaho National Laboratory, is an enhanced variety of solar collector, that is so effective, it can even work at night.


The key to it all is nanotechnology. With this new technology, millions of extremely small twists of metal are molded into banks of "microantennas", which can be placed on almost any material, including plastic sheets. These spiral shaped "microantennas" are about 1/25 the width of a human hair. They are so small that they resonate from the interaction with the sun's infrared rays. This resonation can be translated into energy. During the day, the Earth soaks up a lot of this infrared energy, which is then radiated out at night -- enabling these microantennas to collect power even after the sun has set.

Conventional solar panels can convert about %20 of what hits them into electricity. The research team behind this new tech believes they can hit an efficiency rating of about %80. Also, conventional solar panels are expensive to produce because the rely on high-grade silicon, which is becoming increasingly expensive. These new solar collectors can be manufactured for much less -- the research team aims "to make nanoantenna arrays as cheap as inexpensive carpet."

But! It's not all worked out yet. A big stumbling block remains. While these solar collectors are able to collect solar energy, they are currently unable to transmit this energy into usable electricity. The solar infrared rays hitting the nanoantennas generate a current that has a frequency which oscillates ten thousand billion times a second -- which is far to great of an oscillation that standard electrical appliances can handle. But the teams working on it: "At this point, these antennas are good at capturing energy, but they're not very good at converting it," INL engineer Dale Kotter said, "but we have very promising exploratory research under way."

Via: http://www.neoseeker.com/news/story/7497/
Source: Idaho National Laboratory

 
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"New solar energy collector so efficient it works at night" | Login/Create an Account | 1 comment | Search Discussion
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Electricity from a thin film (Score: 1)
by vlad on Friday, February 01, 2008 @ 22:51:04 EST
(User Info | Send a Message) http://www.zpenergy.com
Teams of researchers all over the world are working on the development of organic solar cells. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg is presenting avenues towards industrial mass production at the world’s largest trade fair for nanotechnology, the nano tech 2008 from February 21 through 23 in Tokyo.

Organic solar cells have good prospects for the future: They can be laid onto thin films, which makes them cheap to produce. Established printing technologies should be employed for their production of the future. In order to achieve this goal of suitable solar cell architecture as well a coating materials and substrates have to be developed. “This method permits a high throughput, so the greatest cost is that of materials,” says Michael Niggemann, a researcher at ISE.

Nevertheless, organic solar cells are not intended to compete with classic silicon cells – they are not nearly efficient enough to do that just yet. Because they are flexible, however, they can open up new fields of application: Plastic solar cells could supply the power for small mobile devices such as MP3 players or electronic ski passes. Another possibility would be to combine solar cells, sensors and electronic circuits on a small strip of plastic to form a self-sufficient power microsystem.

At nano tech in Tokyo, the Fraunhofer experts will be presenting a flexible solar module that is as small as the page of a book. It was produced by a method that can easily be transferred to roll-to-roll technology – a vital step en route to mass production.

A new design principle helps to save costs, too: Until now, the front electrode, the one that faces the sun, has usually been made of expensive indium tin oxide because this material is transparent. But now there is an alternative: The Fraunhofer crew has interconnected a poorly conductive transparent polymer electrode with a highly conductive metal layer on the rear side of the solar cell. This connection is done trough numerous tiny holes in the solar cell .This has the advantage that a low-priced material can be used. The idea has already been patented.

Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Via: http://www.physorg.com/news121096635.html




 

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