Feeds

US Navy uncloaks stealthy underwater solar cells

Energy capture up to nine meters down

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Scientists at the US Navy Research Laboratory (NRL) are developing solar cells that can work effectively up to nine meters underwater, powering marine systems for long periods of time.

Big data is not just for the boardroom, but for the battlefield as well, and military planners are working on using a lot more stealthy sensors and systems that need power without carrying batteries or sticking a solar panel out of the water. But light isn't very effective at penetrating seawater, and conventional solar cells that rely on silicon aren't very good at catching what little light that does.

"The use of autonomous systems to provide situational awareness and long-term environment monitoring underwater is increasing," said Phillip Jenkins, head of NRL Imagers and Detectors section, in a statement. "Although water absorbs sunlight, the technical challenge is to develop a solar cell that can efficiently convert these underwater photons to electricity."

While the amount of light penetrating seawater falls off rapidly with depth, what little that does get down is in a fairly narrow spectral band. The scientists focused on this area using gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) solar cells, similar to those used by satellites, which are highly efficient in visible-light wavelengths, and perform far better than run-of-the-mill photovoltaics in the blue/green portion of the spectrum predominant in seawater.

US Navy solar cell performance underwater

New cells focus on what little light you can get in the vasty deep

The team now estimates that a square meter of these cells would generate 7W of power at 9.1 meters of depth, with better performance – of course – at shallower depths. The team suggests they'd be most effective in coastal regions on low-power applications to replace monitoring stations using fixed power lines. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
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.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
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?
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.