Feeds

Princeton solar researchers take leaf from plants’ book

Rough surfaces better at capturing sunlight

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Solar power researchers at Princeton University have discovered that by mimicking the surface of leaves, they can create solar cells that are better at capturing sunlight for a 47 percent efficiency boost.

In the kind of discovery that’s obvious after the fact, the researchers have “roughed up” the surface of their cells, in imitation of the way that leaves use microscopic irregularities in their surfaces to maximize their harvesting of the sun.

As described in Photonics, leaves' surface structures are “designed to bend and control sunlight for maximum production of energy and nutrients.”

The design tries to overcome the randomness of incident light – anything that doesn’t arrive at the correct angle is going to be reflected. By adding microscopic folds to the surface of their cells, the researchers say they can create a kind of waveguide that helps capture more light, by reducing the amount that’s reflected from the cell.

“Everything hinges on the fact that you can reproduce the wrinkles and folds,” led by professor of chemical and biological engineering Lynn Loo told Photonics. “By controlling the stresses, we can introduce more or fewer wrinkles and folds” – allowing the scientists to design the surface for maximum capture.

The researchers say it’s particularly important in the world of plastic panels, where low efficiency and relatively high cost give the older silicon technology its huge edge in the market.

As well as making a cell more efficient, the researchers found that efficiency doesn’t fall in a hole when the cell is bent. They claim that a standard plastic cell can lose 70 percent of its output when bent – not surprisingly, since bending the cell reduces the surface area that presents the right angle to the incoming light.

By adding the “wrinkles” to a plastic cell, the Princeton group found that it could retain its efficiency when bent. They claim as much as 47 percent better efficiency from their device. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.