A new high efficiency solar cell design that can use almost the entire solar spectrum has been announced by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
What this means is that the resulting solar panels will be able to generate power while it’s dark! What’s more, the new solar technology can be made using existing low cost methods already in operation.
A conventional solar cell captures light from one part of the spectrum. This new solar technology uses different materials stacked in layers, which use different wavelengths. Significantly, these include low and mid-energy wavelengths.
As CleanTechnica points out, this solar technology breakthrough is just one of multiple paths to increasing solar cell efficiency and lowering costs. Ohio State University is developing a full spectrum solar cell. Stanford University is investigating a new technology that avoids solar cell efficiency loss due to high temperatures, which are of course found in sunny regions such as deserts.
Solar paints are also another exciting and promising technology being researched. New processes of solar cell fabrication such as thin-film solar printing are already being rolled out, backed by large amounts of venture capital funding.
It’s a total cliché to say the future looks bright for solar, but I believe it really does, even in the dark. When you look at the innovation that has occurred in the mobile phone industry during the past 2o years or so (remember Gordon Gekko’s gargantuan brick in the movie Wall Street?), it makes me wonder what solar technology will be like 2o years from now.