Researchers at MIT recently revealed a cutting-edge solar technology that promises a “tenfold increase in the amount of power converted by solar cells.” The development utilizes dye-glazed glass panels to capture and concentrate sunlight and then transfer it to an edge-aligned framework of photovoltaic cells. The resulting system uses cheap and readily available materials, is easy to manufacture, and modular systems can even be layered over existing photovoltaic systems to effectively double their energy efficiency for a minimal additional cost.

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One of the greatest hurdles that solar energy has yet to clear is its prohibitive price which proves insurmountable to many would-be adopters. In the past various advancements have sought to level the playing field, such as solar concentrating schemes and dye infused glass cells. This recent development manages to synthesize these approaches into an ultra-efficient low-cost system.

MIT’s solar concentrator maximizes its mileage by using an efficient expanse of light-collecting glass to guide sunlight into a minute array of potent photovoltaics. The glass panels are coated with a dye that absorbs sunlight and channels it along the pane’s edges while altering its wavelength to reduce energy loss from light transportation. The result is a system that can collect light over a very large area, but requires a very small array of solar cells.

The versatile panels can be roof mounted or installed as windows, and their inherent design negates the need for a solar tracking system. Since little complex circuitry is required, the panes are very tolerant to defects, plus the dye used is extremely inexpensive, and it is easily “painted on” the glass panels. The development could be implemented as soon as three years from now.


Via Wired