MIT concentrates on solar panels

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Scientists at MIT have come up with a new method of generating solar power using windows to collect the sun’s rays.

The technique involves painting the glass or plastic in a window with a mixture of dies which absorb light of different wavelengths and direct it to the frame. Solar cells positioned there collect the concentrated light and can produce power by a factor of 40.

Traditional solar cells have their light absorption boosted by tracking mirrors but these consume both power and space, and are costly to maintain. This new technique would allow almost any window to be used and let skyscrapers generate large amounts of power to run their internal systems.

“Professor Baldo's project utilizes innovative design to achieve superior solar conversion without optical tracking," says Dr. Aravinda Kini, program manager in the Office of Basic Energy Sciences in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, a sponsor of the work.

"This accomplishment demonstrates the critical importance of innovative basic research in bringing about revolutionary advances in solar energy utilization in a cost-effective manner."

The idea behind using glass to collect light in this way is not new, but failed when tried previously because of light dissipation weakening the efficiency of the solar cells. The team used research from laser technology to alter the dies concentration to channel light more effectively.

"We made it so the light can travel a much longer distance," said Jon Mapel, graduate student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.

“We were able to substantially reduce light transport losses, resulting in a tenfold increase in the amount of power converted by the solar cells."
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