Unlike the flat solar cells used today, the curve of the tubes inside the new device allows for the collection of both visible light and infrared heat from nearly sunrise to sunset. This means it provides power for a much greater part of the day than does a normal solar cell.
Because of the general structure and the ability to capture light at oblique angles, this is also the first solar-thermal device that can be truly building-integrated it can be made to look nearly identical to roofing tiles used today.
Tests of the solar-thermal device have shown 30 percent efficiency in converting solar energy to power. By comparison, a standard solar cell with a polymer absorber has shown no greater than 8 percent conversion efficiency.
The research team will build the first square-meter-size solar-thermal cell this summer, a key step in getting the technology ready for market.
|Contact: Ellen Sterner Sedeno|
Wake Forest University