Stanford Engineers Develop a Cool Way to Boost Efficiency of Solar Cells

Published Date : Sep 22, 2015

The global solar industry is growing rapidly. This rapid expansion of the global solar industry is driving innovation. Independent researchers and organizations around the world in the industry are focused on inventing tools and techniques that will drive the efficiency of the solar power technology. At present, the trend is to drive the efficiency of solar panels has become intense and companies have come up with several ways to boost the efficiency.

Many firms have come up with solar panel designs that are inspired from the wings of a butterfly or inspired from the Japanese art of origami. On the other hand, there are other firms that have come up with innovations such as integrated roof, curtain, and window PVs. Then there are some other organizations that are intensely involved in developing coatings and films that fuel the efficiency of solar panels.

A group of engineers at Stanford have come up with a coating that helps to boost the efficiency of solar cells in a unique way. Heating of solar panels affects the efficiency of solar panels. The more the solar panels get heated, the lower is their efficiency. However, this invention from Stanford engineers improves the efficiency of solar panels as this coating shuns away the heat created by a solar cell under the sun’s light and cools it down in a way allowing the cells to convert more photons in electricity.

This solution is based on thin, patterned material of silica that is laid on top of conventional solar cell. The coating is transparent and captures and emits back the thermal radiation/heat from the infrared rays. This work is by Shanhui Fan and his associate Aaswath Raman. Fan is a professor of electrical engineering based at Standford. The details of this study are available in the issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.