Spherical solar cells to improve efficiency?5th Mar 2012
In a bid to improve the efficiency of traditional solar panels, Japanese firm Kyosemi has developed spherical solar cells.
The company identified that one of the main problems with normal panels is that they are flat, meaning they cannot catch the sun's rays from all directions.
Each cell measures just one to two millimetres wide, which Kyosemi believes will make them practical for a number of different applications.
One of the main advantages of these cells is that they do not have to move around to capture sunlight, reducing the need for the use of motors.
Their hemispheric base maximises exposure to the sun and because they are not flat they require less surface area, meaning more units can be installed in a smaller space.
Kyosemi has also developed cells that can be attached to pliable surfaces, further maximising their exposure to the sun.
A range of products are available, including the Sphelar Dome, which is capable of generating up to 940mW, depending on the model.
Advancements in the solar power industry are always taking place, with inventor Marco Rosa-Clot unveiling floating solar panels in recent days.
He proposed that the panels are more efficient than traditional designs because they can capture sunlight from all directions and do not overheat.
Flower-shaped panels are attached to a raft-like structure, which can then be anchored to the bottom of a lake to ensure they do not float away.
Experts from Swinburne University of Technology recently joined forces with Suntech Power Holdings to create what they believe to be the most efficient broadband nanoplasmonic solar cell in the world.
Professor Min G, director of the Victoria-Suntech Advanced Solar Facility, noted that in order to make the product competitive with silicon cells, the light trapping technology needs to be further developed.
"One of the main potential applications of the technology will be to cover conventional glass, enabling buildings and skyscrapers to be powered entirely by sunlight," he commented.
Efforts have already been made to address the problem by embedding gold and silver nanoparticles, as this increases the wavelength of the absorbed light.
Furthermore, it enhances the conversion of photons into electrons and the uneven surface of the cells means the light is scattered further into the broadband wavelength range.
At present, the product can achieve an efficiency rate of 8.1 per cent, although there is potential for this to be increased further.
Posted by Mike Peacock