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Press Release 08-118

A Colorful Approach to Solar Energy

Dyed-glass breakthrough channels energy into solar cells

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An artist's representation shows a cost-effective solar concentrator.

An artist's representation shows how a cost-effective solar concentrator could help make existing solar panels more efficient. The dye-based luminescent solar concentrator functions without the use of tracking or cooling systems, greatly reducing the overall cost compared to other concentrator technology. Dye molecules coated on glass absorb sunlight, and re-emit it at a different wavelengths. The light is trapped and transported within the glass until it is captured by solar cells at the edge. Some light passes through the concentrator, and is absorbed by lower voltage solar cells underneath. [Note: Graphic is not to scale.]

Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, NSF


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Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have successfully created a sophisticated, yet affordable, method to turn ordinary glass into a high-tech solar concentrator. Electrical engineer Marc Baldo, his graduate students Michael Currie, Jon Mapel and Timothy Heidel, and postdoctoral associate Shalom Goffri developed the concentrator made from dye-coated glass and announced their findings in the July 11, 2008, issue of Science. The device collects and channels photons otherwise lost from a solar panel's surface, dramatically boosting solar cell performance. In this video, Baldo explains the technology and its potential impact on the future of energy.

Credit: MIT

 

Photo showing organic solar concentrators that collect and focus different colors of sunlight.

Organic solar concentrators collect and focus different colors of sunlight. Solar cells can be attached to the edges of these plates. By collecting light over their full surface and concentrating it at their edges, these devices reduce the required area of solar cells and consequently, the cost of solar power. Stacking multiple concentrators allows the optimization of solar cells at each wavelength, increasing the overall power output. Contact Teresa Herbert (therbert@MIT.EDU) for image permissions and print-resolution versions.

Credit: Photo by Donna Coveney, MIT


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Photo of Marc Baldo and Shalom Goffri of MIT holding examples of organic solar concentrators.

Marc Baldo, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science (left) and Shalom Goffri, postdoc in MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics (right) hold examples of organic solar concentrators. Contact Teresa Herbert (therbert@MIT.EDU) for image permissions and print-resolution versions.

Credit: Photo by Donna Coveney, MIT


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Cover of the July 11 issue of Science magazine.

The researchers' findings are announced in the July 11 issue of Science magazine.

Credit: Copyright AAAS 2008


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