New solar energy conversion technology being developed – could be game changer

July 28th, 2010 | Posted in Solar

Scientists from South Korea, Belgium and the United States are working on a new breakthrough solar energy harvesting technology, that could change the game in the solar energy industry. Research is focused on producing technology for a new class of solar energy converters, with greater efficiency and cost savings. According to Scitech Solar, one of the companies involved in the research, the new technology will be scalable, sustainable, adaptable and eco-friendly. So, here's the scientific info…

Currently, semiconductor solar energy converters concentrate on the lower end of the visible sunlight spectrum, experiencing efficiency drops as soon as nominal temperature reaches about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The new technology is based on the optical rectification process, which uses a single element system to extract energy from sunlight throughout the visible light spectrum, from infrared, to the very edge of visible light. The broad absorption spectrum contributes significantly to the energy conversion efficiency, compared to current solar cell technology. The receiving element acts as both as a receiving antenna and as a rectifier, absorbing and converting solar energy into an electric current. Historically dubbed rectenna, the concept was originally developed for microwave power transmission, and reached efficiency levels of about 90 percent. Since the device is fabricated using metallic antennas, there are no semiconductor band gap constraints, limiting performance. This also allows the device to operate at higher temperatures.

In extensive computer simulations, in a lab environment, scientists have achieved 50% conversion efficiencies, putting the new technology on the level with existing solar cell conversion devices.

[source: Scitech Solar]