This one definitely takes the cake and deserves our attention – nocturnal solar panels. This new generation of solar panels is poised to redefine the concept of solar power generation and conversion. Would you care to have these solar cells that continue to suck up energy long after the sun has set? With these innovative nano-sized photo-sensitive antennas, 24-hour solar power generation could become a reality. This amazing technology, once it is perfected, will surely usher in a major breakthrough in the field of renewable energy.
The important element of this new power generating device is its capacity to collect infrared radiation or IR. Almost 50% of the potential energy that can be harvested from the solar spectrum is found in the IR band and the infrared is re-emitted by the surface of the Earth after sunset. This means that this array of antennas would continue to absorb energy well through the night.
Results of lab tests have proven that this array of antennas can harvest as much as 82% of the photons under normal conditions. Experts who are at the forefront in the development of this new technology estimate the optimal performance of the device at around 46%. The current version of the silicon solar cells has a rated performance efficiency of just about 25%. In addition to this, solar energy is deflected instead of being harvested if the solar panels are not properly positioned.
In contrast, this array of photo-sensitive antennas can absorb solar energy at optimum levels for a wide range of angles. If this technology can be implemented on a much larger scale, then it will surely redefine the way we harness the full potential of the best and most powerful source of renewable energy.
While solar cells utilize photons to release the electrons, this new device resonates when light waves hit its surface. This event results to the generation of alternating current. In order to create an array that has the capability to harvest infrared and visible radiation, experts are planning to use multi-layered set of antennas, with the layers tuned to varying optical frequencies.
Currently, there are two major hurdles that have to be overcome before this revolutionary technology can unlock the real power of the sun. Firstly, the antenna length must approximate the actual size of the captured wavelength. In the case of the solar spectrum, we are actually talking of minute sizes which can go as low as several hundredths of a nanometer.
The second challenge is associated with the kind of current that is generated through this technology, which is alternating at extremely high frequencies. Thus, we may have to convert it to direct current first before we can harness them. However, the silicon diodes that we currently use in the conversion process are not designed for extremely high frequencies.
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