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USA : Getting more from solar panels

Posté par admin le February 24, 2012 à 14:26 Dans Housing,Industry | No Comments

Solar panels have long been lauded as one of the key alternative energy sources. Now it appears we may be able to squeeze even more energy from them.

Researchers believe that tweaking the tiniest parts of solar panels can yield a significant increase in energy efficiency. Academics from the University at Buffalo, Army Research Laboratory and Air Force Office of Scientific Research claim they have developed a new nanomaterials-based technology that could potentially increase the energy efficiency of photovoltaic cells by as much as 45 percent.

The research team, led by electrical engineer Vladimir Mitin, says they have shown that embedding charged quantum dots into solar cells can lead to increased electrical output by enabling the cells to harvest infrared light, and also by lengthening the lifespan of photoelectrons. Furthermore, the scientists say the technology can be applied to many different photovoltaic structures.

The researchers involved in the project have founded a new company, OPtoElectronic Nanodevices, in order to commercialize the technology. Mitin said the concept of embedding quantum dots into solar panels is nothing new, having originally appeared around a decade ago. However, until now significant effort and resources had not been devoted to developing the technology.

According to a Buffalo University press release, the researchers have employed “selective doping,” allowing quantum dots within the solar cell have a significant built-in charge. This built-in charge is beneficial because it repels the electrons, “forcing them to travel around the quantum dots. Otherwise, the quantum dots create a channel of recombination for electrons, in essence ‘capturing’ moving electrons and preventing them from contributing to electric current.” Through the University at Buffalo’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach, Mitin and his colleagues have filed provisional patent applications to protect the technology they have developed.

Mitin feels very confident about the solar cell tweaking: “Clean technology will really benefit the region, the state, the country. With high-efficiency solar cells, consumers can save money and providers can have a smaller solar field that produces more energy.”

Researchers believe that tweaking the tiniest parts of solar panels can yield a significant increase in energy efficiency. Academics from the University at Buffalo, Army Research Laboratory and Air Force Office of Scientific Research claim they have developed a new nanomaterials-based technology that could potentially increase the energy efficiency of photovoltaic cells by as much as 45 percent.

The research team, led by electrical engineer Vladimir Mitin, says they have shown that embedding charged quantum dots into solar cells can lead to increased electrical output by enabling the cells to harvest infrared light, and also by lengthening the lifespan of photoelectrons. Furthermore, the scientists say the technology can be applied to many different photovoltaic structures.

The researchers involved in the project have founded a new company, OPtoElectronic Nanodevices, in order to commercialize the technology. Mitin said the concept of embedding quantum dots into solar panels is nothing new, having originally appeared around a decade ago. However, until now significant effort and resources had not been devoted to developing the technology.

According to a Buffalo University press release, the researchers have employed “selective doping,” allowing quantum dots within the solar cell have a significant built-in charge. This built-in charge is beneficial because it repels the electrons, “forcing them to travel around the quantum dots. Otherwise, the quantum dots create a channel of recombination for electrons, in essence ‘capturing’ moving electrons and preventing them from contributing to electric current.” Through the University at Buffalo’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach, Mitin and his colleagues have filed provisional patent applications to protect the technology they have developed.

Mitin feels very confident about the solar cell tweaking: “Clean technology will really benefit the region, the state, the country. With high-efficiency solar cells, consumers can save money and providers can have a smaller solar field that produces more energy.”

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