MIT Scientists have created an amazing new super thin glass material the could reshape the solar industry by combining solar concentrator technology and silicon solar cells.
This revolutionary new form of glass gathers diffused light and focuses the solar energy onto specially prepared tandem solar modules. The glass acts as waveguides that channel the concentrated light much like a fiber optic cable transmits light energy signals at incredible speed and high bandwidth.
Traditional solar concentrator technology uses mirrors and lenses to focus the light energy onto photovoltaic cells. These systems are very thick and bulky and have been cost prohibitive for most applications.
The new MIT discovery came by coating the glass with light absorbing dyes. Each dye color absorbs a different wavelengths of light energy. The dyes diffuse the light into the glass where it is channeled to the edges where specially designed solar cell strips that are adhered to the edges absorb the light and produce much higher amounts of electricity because the light is gathered from all ends of the spectrum, from infrared to ultraviolet.
Marc Baldo an associate professor of electrical engineering at MIT believes that this technology “could be the cheapest solar technology”
The first prototype has been shrunk down to a mere 12” square and only a fraction of an inch thick. The scientists hope future models will be able to be fashioned into any size from tiny 6” models all the way up to giant 10’ by 10’ panels.
Because of the relatively simple nature of the technology and expected ease of manufacturing it is thought that in larger sizes and volumes it would be cheaper than coal produced electricity and could mark a turning point in the science of alternative energy.