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Stanford has made the breaththrough in harvesting the solar energy

August 2, 2010

Maximize the efficiency

The convention photovoltaic technology only makes use of sunlight. How about utilize both the light and heat?

This is exactly what Stanford engineers are doing. They invented a new method called photon enhanced thermionic emission. The motivation of the research is to make as much as possible of the sunlight spectrum, where the conventional method only makes use of partial of the spectrum band. That said, one big problem of conventional method is that it generally loses function when the solar panel reaches 100 degrees Celsius.

Professor Nicholas Melosh research group applies the semiconducting material with a thin layer of the metal cesium. With this metal cesium coat, the solar panel can make use of both light and heat to generate electricity, which can still function until the solar panel reaches 200 degrees Celsius, with the possible triple efficiency of the conventional method.

The research team is still exploring the suitable coating materials to maximize the efficiency in harvesting the solar energy.

If you are interested in reading the full paper, you can download it from journal of Nature.

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