More Solar News – Cheaper and more efficient?

September 23, 2008 at 8:51 pm 2 comments

An article published today at the MIT Technology Review webiste boasts about cheaper and more efficient solar panel technology.(

Excerpt: “Suniva’s cells are efficient largely because they can trap light, keeping photons inside the active material of the solar cell until their energy can be used to free electrons and generate an electrical current. The basic concept of trapping light is not new. It relies on texturing the front surface of the layer of silicon that forms the active material of the solar cell. The texturing creates facets that redirect incoming light, refracting it so that, instead of passing directly through the silicon, it travels along the length of the silicon layer. The photons thus stay in the material longer and have a better chance of being absorbed by atoms in the material. When that happens, the energy in the photons can free electrons that are used to generate current.

Light trapping can be enhanced by pairing the textured surface with a reflective layer at the back of the silicon layer. The mirror keeps the light in the solar cell still longer, further increasing the number of freed electrons. As a consequence, the silicon can be half its ordinary thickness while absorbing the same amount of light. Using less of an expensive material reduces costs directly. But it also allows solar-cell makers to make do with cheaper, less pure forms of silicon. In a conventional solar cell, which can have a silicon layer 200 micrometers thick, impurities within the material can easily trap electrons before they reach the surface and escape to generate a current. In a layer of silicon just 100 micrometers thick, however, the electrons have a shorter distance to travel, so they’re less likely to encounter an impurity before they escape. Lower-grade silicon is much cheaper and easier to make than the highly refined silicon ordinarily used in solar cells.

I just hope that this technology keeps getting better and cheaper and breaks the affordable barrier soon! I want to be able to put this tech on my house and on affordable housing projects in the next few years!

Also tonight we have further use of solar power for help in disaster situations. From the folks at ( we have a device that can desalinate sea water using solar power.

Excerpt: “This system by Spectra Watermaker’s and Trunz Metallchnik AG, namely the Solar Cube, is a mighty powerful thing to be on the sentinel for its high potential. A product giving away clean drinking water and emergency electricity during catastrophic situations is a godsend. The brain behind creating a product with the ability to provide up to 950-1000 gallons of fresh drinking water per day from polluted water along with producing electricity qualifies this invention to be the work of a genius.

The device works on 24-volt batteries that are charged by both photovoltaic solar panels and a wind-powered generator. The functions are simple, as it works by placing a pump, which is attached to the machine that goes into polluted water. The water is pumped through a series of filters, finally resulting in fresh drinking water that’s free from bacteria, viruses, salts and various other harmful chemicals. It’s been a while since I’ve come across something so powerful that possesses the ability to solve one of the biggest problems our world faces. Hence, the Solar Cube is a boon to each one of us.

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Entry filed under: Solar Power, Technology. Tags: , , , .

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